The Kingdom is like a shepherd
who owned hundred sheep.
One among them, which was the largest, went astray;
he left the ninety-nine,
he sought after the one
until he found it.
When he had toiled,
he said to the sheep:
I desire you more than the ninety-nine! [#107 ]
This saying is recorded in all the Gospels. It is so well-known and accepted that we tend to skip over it and move to the next logion. Our acceptance of its meaning is usually based our early Sunday or week-day school teaching.
But wait; everything from Jesus in 'Thomas' challenges our assumptions, our pre-conceived ideas, and our beliefs. So maybe we need to look below the surface of this logion to find a deeper meaning.
Our general assumption is that we are the lost sheep and God will come looking for us. We are passive in this story. We are chosen-the largest. We are lost but will be found. You can see how this became a 'good' story: we can carry-on doing what we like as God will come looking for us. Okay, we have to avoid various 'sins' but otherwise we are okay.
Jesus in 'Thomas' teaches us a whole new perspective: the Kingdom is within us, there is no duality, knowing rather than believing, overcoming ahamkara to reveal our Real Self. Does this new perspective give us the clues we need?
The Kingdom is like a shepherd, who owned hundred sheep. The Kingdom is within us, so we are the shepherd and these sheep of ours are the various manifestations of our personality, our attitudes, our beliefs, our façades. Some would say "our demons".
One among them, which was the largest, went astray; We recognise the 'hole in our life', our yearnings, our brief glimpses of our Real Selves; the largest sheep whom we have lost.
he left the ninety-nine, he sought after the one until he found it. We abandon all the lesser things in our lives and we, not God, set out to recover our lost Self. We have to seek within ourselves and continue seeking until we find it.
When he had toiled, he said to the sheep: I desire you more than the ninety-nine! This work is rewarded when we recognize that the found sheep is the one that we have desired all our lives. But it has taken toil and it is we who had to do that task until it is completed.
It's the start of a New Year when traditionally we make resolutions. Maybe we need to renew our endeavours to find our 'lost sheep', our Kingdom, our Real Self.