The love Jesus has for us is intense and he passionately pursues us with his goodness and love, going after even the one who is lost.
”Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever”.(Ps. 23:6)
The word “pursue” used in the New Living Translation is very proactive. Jesus’ love for us causes him to chase after us and he is the one who acts first to win us to himself.
Sometimes Jesus’ pursuit can be dramatic as in the conversion of Saul (Paul) in Acts 9 but there is no “one size fits all” in how we come to know him.
In the Victorian poem, The Hound of Heaven, the poet writes of being chased down by a loving God who pursues him like a hunting dog chasing its prey. God is relentless in his love but he is patient, kind, forgiving, and only has good intentions for us.
We are Jesus’ sheep and he has the authority to command but he is gentle in spirit and his love is never coercive or overbearing. He pursues us but his desire is to draw us back into the Kingdom whose King is a loving father.
Jesus pursues us but like biblical shepherds, he also goes ahead of the flock.
“You go before me and follow me.”(Ps. 139:5)
Jesus not only pursues us but also leads the flock and we choose to follow him because we know and trust his voice.
In Luke 15:3-7, Jesus responds to criticism from the Pharisees by telling the Parable of the Lost Sheep.
Jesus has a shepherd’s heart of compassion. He loves the vulnerable and those on the margins of society. The parable shows how there is great rejoicing when the lost one is found. This is in contrast to the attitude of the Pharisees which is legalistic and joyless.
Jesus knows us individually and calls us by name. When the shepherd counts the flock he knows one is missing and isn’t content to leave it alone. He goes after the one who is lost because each individual is valuable.
A sheep that is away from the shepherd and the rest of the flock is vulnerable to attack and is exposed to the elements and the storm alone. Jesus will pursue just one sheep that has wandered off and place it back into the flock where it belongs.
Being in a storm is an uncomfortable place but it is better to be with the shepherd and with the flock in the storm. Being held close to the shepherd’s heart is where we truly belong.
… there is no safer place than the intimate presence of God(Nicky Gumbel)
We have all been the lost sheep. Everyone has done wrong and needs forgiveness bu,t where the Pharisees would condemn, Jesus forgives and rejoices at the return of the sinner who is sincerely sorry for their wrongdoing. There are things we need to change but Jesus saves us while we are still sinners and often his love and acceptance are the very things that cause us to want to change our way of life.
So let’s not run from Jesus but let’s be proactive in pursuing him even as he passionately pursues us with his goodness and unfailing love all the days of our life.