Jesus said: The Kingdom is like a shepherd with one hundred sheep. One of those sheep, the largest, wandered off. He left the ninety-nine others behind and went looking for the other one until he found it. Having exhausted himself, he said to the sheep, “I love you more than the other ninety-nine.”
This is phrased a bit differently than the version Christians are familiar with from the synoptic gospels. This version has the straying sheep be the largest, and has the shepherd say he loved it more than the others, and mentions that the shepherd exhausted himself in the search. I have no doubt that these are significant differences, and I wonder why the changes. Did Jesus tell it both ways? If not, did the commonly known version strip these details from the story, and if so, why?
All valid questions.
The sheep being largest reminds me of the pearl of great price, for which someone would sell everything else.
Yes, good. And of course the shepherd would love it more than the others. Does the “straying” factor occur to you?
With the help of my friends, no doubt, yes. The straying sheep is as close to being an outlier as a sheep can be, and as an outlier it was both trouble and valuable, in and of itself, because of its self-directed separation from the rest.
Also notice that the shepherd exhausted himself: What costs us effort endears itself to us, like helpless infants to their parents.
Jesus said: He who drinks from my mouth will become like I am, and I will become he. And the hidden things will be revealed to him.
A little more difficult. A difficult image, for one thing.
Jesus was on record as saying that what came out of a man’s mouth characterized him. It isn’t thought of in that way, because the emphasis seemed to be that it is not ritual but essence that defined one, but that was the point: Not what one ate but what one said defiled – or didn’t. Here is the converse: What comes out of his mouth is life, not defilement, and anyone capable of absorbing it would absorb life.
It’s still a very difficult image.
Well, get over it as best you can. You understand the sense of it; deal with the awkward image and ask why that image.
I suppose because it implies an automatic process, in a way. If one drinks from his mouth one doesn’t merely listen, doesn’t merely imbibe concepts or ideas, doesn’t merely get inspired by example. It’s closer to “eat my flesh and drink my blood.”
Yes. Keep going, even though it seems tenuous, almost distasteful.
Nice pun. Well, it’s so intimate an image. Lovers might share mouthfuls. Who else would?
A clue, perhaps?
I can see it that way, I suppose. One needs to identify with Jesus that closely – as closely as a lover – to absorb his essence?
Could there be a physical component to identifying with Jesus while you are still living in the 3D world?
I take it that is a rhetorical question.
It is, but try to answer it.
I suppose you mean, it isn’t enough to assent intellectually, we must be changed entirely.
Isn’t that what it says? “Will become like I am, and I will become he”? That doesn’t sound much like, “Learn to think like me,” or “Learn to approve what I say and do.”
No, I agree. It means, if you are thoroughly changed, other things will follow.
And “thoroughly changed” does not mean “thinking about it,” or “half-heartedly agreeing.”
So that is what Jesus meant about spewing us out of his mouth if we are neither hot nor cold but lukewarm!
Nothing is to be gained by thinking about changing. You lose what you had and you acquire nothing new. If you reread the gospels remembering only one thing, remember that it is about life more abundant.
Jesus said: The Kingdom is like a man with a treasure of which he is unaware hidden in his field. He died and left the field to his son. His son knew nothing about it and, having received the field, sold it. The new owner came and, while plowing, found the treasure. He began to lend money at interest to anybody he wished.
And so you see, this saying follows immediately the one saying how to gain the kingdom. If you find the kingdom – no matter how you find it, no matter who might be thought to have had better claim to it, which in context means, who might seem to have had a better chance to find it were it not for a lack of consciousness of the opportunity – if you find the kingdom you will have plenty, and, as you noted in reading it originally, you will have the means for it to increase on its own, without further effort of yours.
- Jesus said: Whoever has found the world and become rich should renounce the world.
Finding the world, becoming rich, renouncing the world. Seems like it ought to be obvious, but not quite.
Well, try this. The prior saying referred to the man who found a buried treasure. What should that man have renounced, and why? And remember, these sayings are not simple maxims for living, but are aimed at giving life more abundantly.
I get a vague sense of it meaning, having seen through it, he should cease to believe in it.
That’s closer, but not quite. More like, having found, he should cease to continue to seek. That is, having found, he should recognize that he found what he sought, and should renounce further seeking for what was found, not further seeking per se.
That sounds like a stretch.
Not for the first time. Does that mean it isn’t right?
It means, I don’t have the confidence in this interpretation that I have had in others.
Let’s proceed, then, and see if it becomes clearer and more convincing in light of its surroundings.