Travelling Lite#13. “Mercy dash…!”

Travelling Lite#13. “Mercy dash…!”

If a poll were taken amongst teenagers of their 10 favourite “old” hymns, I wonder what would make up that list? My guess is that all of them would be in the “Short and Up-beat” category. Even though Elizabeth C. Clephane’s 1868 hymn, “The Ninety and Nine” does not meet those criteria, what it lacks in pace, it makes up for in raw emotion. The writer skilfully weaves Jesus’ Parable of the Lost Sheep (Matthew 18:10-14) into a beautiful hymn that has moved many to action.

Two thousand years ago The Good Shepherd left his home in glory to rescue his sheep that had gone astray. When walking among them “he felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36).

The Good Shepherd did not come just to observe our miserable state brought on by our lostness; he saw that from heaven.

Instead, John the Baptiser had announced that the Good Shepherd was “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Then Jesus said of himself: “I lay down My life for the sheep” (John 10:15). And later Paul reminded the Corinthian church why purity before God was possible: “For Christ our Passover [Lamb] also has been sacrificed” (1 Corinthians 5:7).

The average man deems it an insult to be counted as a lost sheep; spiritual, or otherwise. It takes humility to accept that Jesus had to die as one of us to save us from ourselves. “For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls” (1 Peter 2:25).

I will give Elizabeth C. Clephane the last word(s):
And all through the mountains, thunder-riv’n,
And up from the rocky steep,
There arose a glad cry to the gate of heav’n,
“Rejoice! I have found My sheep!”And the angels echoed around the throne,
“Rejoice, for the Lord brings back His own!”

John Staiger


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