The lost sheep by Alfred Soord (1868-1915)
“You’ve got a picture like mine,” said Rosalie, after a time, when she saw that Jinx seemed inclined to talk.
“Yes,” he said, “have you one like it? I got it at Pendleton fair.”
“And so did I,” said Rosalie. “The same old man gave one to me.
“Has He found you, Mr. Jinx?” said Rosalie, in a lower voice.
“Who found me? What do you mean?” said Jinx, with a laugh.
“Why, haven’t you read the story about the picture?” said the child. “It says where it is underneath.”
“No, not I,” said Jinx, laughing again. “Thinks I, when the old man gave it to me, ‘It’s a pretty picture, and I’ll stick it on the wall’; but I’ve never troubled my head anymore about it.”
“Oh, my mother and I—we read it nearly every day,” said Rosalie. “It’s such a beautiful story!”
“Is it?” said Jinx. “I should like to hear it. Tell it to me; it will pass the time as we go along.”
“I can read it, if you like,” said Rosalie. “I have it here in a book.”
“All right! Read on,” said Jinx graciously.
Rosalie took her Testament from her bag. But before she began to read, Jinx called out to the woman, who was leaning out of the caravan talking to her husband.
“Old mother,” he called out, “come and hear the little ’un read; she’s going to give us the history of that there picture of mine. You know nothing about it, I’ll be bound.”
15 Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him.
2 And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.
3 And he spake this parable unto them, saying,
4 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?
5 And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
6 And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.
7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance
But Jinx was wrong, for when Rosalie had finished reading, the woman said, “That will be the Bible you read out of. I’ve read that often when I was a girl. I went to a good Sunday school then.”
“And don’t you ever read it now?” said Rosalie.
“Oh, I’m not so bad as you think,” said the woman, not answering her question. “I think of all those things at times. I’m a decent woman in my way. I know the Bible well enough, and there’s a many a deal worse than I am!”
“If you would like,” said Rosalie timidly, “I’ll find it for you in your Bible, and then you can read it again, as you used to do when you were a girl.”
The woman hesitated when Rosalie said this.
“Well, to tell you the truth, I haven’t got my Bible here,” she said. “My husband sent all the things we wasn’t wanting at the time to his relations in Scotland, and somehow the Bible got packed up in the hamper. It will be a year since now. I was very vexed about it at the time.”
“Has the Good Shepherd found you, ma’am?” asked the child.
“Oh, I don’t know, child; I don’t need much finding. I’m not so bad as all that. I’m a very decent woman, I am. John Thomas will tell you that.”
“Then, I suppose,” said Rosalie, looking very puzzled, “you must be one of the ninety-and-nine.”
“What do you mean, child?” asked she.
“I mean, one of the ninety-and-nine sheep which don’t need any repentance, because they were never lost. And the Good Shepherd never found them, nor carried them home, nor said of them, ‘Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.’ ”
“Well,” said Jinx, looking at Rosalie with a half-amused face, if the old mother’s one of the ninety-and-nine, what am I?”
“I don’t know,” said Rosalie gravely. “You must know better than I do, Mr. Jinx.”
“Well, how is one to know?” he answered. “If I’m not one of the ninety-and-nine, what am I, then?”
“Do you really want to know?” said the child gravely. “Because if not, we won’t talk about it, please.”
“Yes,” said Jinx, in quite a different tone. “I really do want to know about it.”
“My mother said one day,” said Rosalie, “that she thought there were only three kinds of sheep in the parable. There are the ninety-and-nine sheep who were never lost, and who need no repentance, because they’ve never done anything wrong or said anything wrong, but have always been quite good, and holy, and pure. That’s one kind, My mother said she thought the ninety-and-nine must be the angels; she didn’t think there were any in this world.”
“Hear that, old mother?” said Jinx. “You must be an angel, you see. Well, little ’un, go on.”
“And then there are the lost sheep,” said Rosalie, “full of sin, and far away from the fold. They don’t love the Good Shepherd, and sometimes they don’t even know that they are lost. They are very far from the right way—very far from being perfectly good and holy.”
“Well,” said Jinx, “and what’s the third kind of sheep?”
“Oh, that’s the sheep which was lost, but is found again!”
“And what are they like?” asked the lad.
“They love the Good Shepherd. They listen to His voice, and follow Him, and never, never want to wander from the fold.”
“Is that all the kinds?” asked Jinx.
“Yes,” said Rosalie, “that’s all.”
“Well,” said Jinx thoughtfully, “I’ve made up my mind which I am.”
“Which, Mr. Jinx?” asked the child.
“Well,” he said, “you see I can’t be one of the ninety-and-nine, because I’ve done lots of bad things in my life. I’ve got into tempers, and I’ve sworn, and I’ve done heaps of bad things: so that’s out of the question. And I can’t be a found sheep, because I don’t love the Good Shepherd—I never think about Him at all. So I suppose I’m a lost sheep. That’s a very bad thing to be, isn’t it?”
“Yes, very bad; if you are always a lost sheep,” said the child. “But if you are one of the lost sheep, then Jesus came to seek you and to save you.”
“Didn’t He come to seek and save the old mother?” asked Jinx.
“Not if she’s one of the ninety-and-nine,” said Rosalie. “It says, ‘The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.’ So if she isn’t lost, it doesn’t mean her.”
The woman looked very uncomfortable when Rosalie said this. She did not like to think that Jesus had not come to save her.
“Well, and suppose a fellow knows he’s one of the lost sheep,” said Jinx, “what has he got to do?”
“He must cry out to the Good Shepherd, and tell Him he’s lost, and ask the Good Shepherd to find him.”
“Well, but first of all, I suppose,” said Jinx, “he must make himself a bit ready to go to the Good Shepherd—leave off a few of his bad ways, and make himself decent a bit?”
“Oh, no!” said Rosalie. “He’d never get back to the fold that way. First of all, he must tell the Shepherd he’s lost. Then the Shepherd, who has been seeking him a long, long time, will find him at once, and carry him on His shoulders home. And then the Good Shepherd will help him to do all the rest.”
“Well, I’ll think about what you’ve said,” Jinx replied. “Thank you, little ’un.”
~ taken from A peep behind the Scenes by O.F. Walton