Seeking the Lost Sheep

(Matthew 18:10-14)

The previous section spoke about the fact that temptation was necessary, but what happens when a Christian succumbs to temptation? Here we see that God protects his people and goes seeking the lost sheep when one of his people falls. This scripture tells us of the love of God for his people and why Jesus said woe to those by whom the temptation to sin should come.

In verse 10 Jesus tells us, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven.” Now in this and the previous sections from Matthew 18:1-9, he is talking about those who are the children of God. This conversation began with the disciples asking who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven and Jesus is addressing that question. So the people he is speaking of are those who have come to God and are children of God, that is, they are Christians.

Now the literal translation of the word “Christian” means an anointed one, that is, someone who has received the Holy Spirit as Christ did. This is important because it helps us to understand what Jesus was talking about when he says, “…their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven.” The question arises, who are these angels?

If we look at Hebrews 1:7 he speaks of the angels in this way, “Of the angels he says, “Who makes his angels winds, and his servants flames of fire.” He describes the angels as being able to take the form of wind and fire. We saw that description fulfilled when the disciples received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. This is described in Acts 2:2-4, “And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” This indicates that the Holy Spirit is an angel for he fits the description that God gave to the angels.

Furthermore we see again in Hebrews 1:13-14 the angels described as, “But to what angel has he ever said, “Sit at my right hand, till I make thy enemies a stool for thy feet”? Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation?” We are those who are to obtain salvation. We are those whom the angels as ministering spirits are sent forth to serve by God.

When we look at the work of the Holy Spirit we see that his role is to serve by ministering to each individual. In John 16:7 we see that the Holy Spirit is sent to us by Jesus and the Holy Spirit is given to us from the Father to dwell within us (John 14:16-17, John 15:26). The Holy Spirit teaches, guides, counsels and comforts so that we may be saved. (John 14:26, John 16:13) And the Holy Spirit does the work of transformation in our life to change us into the image of God from one degree of glory to another. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

So from this it is clear that the Holy Spirit given to each of us is an angel sent from God to do this work of transformation in each person. This is why Jesus says to be sure we do not despise one of God’s people. In doing so we would also despise the Holy Spirit within that person as well. If a person succumbs to temptation and wanders away from God they are like a lost sheep. Within the spiritual realm there is great concern for the one who becomes lost this way, and we see that God seeks that person to bring them back into the fold. This too is through the working of the Holy Spirit in us. And when that person returns to Him, there is great joy in heaven over the return of a lost person.

So we can take comfort that we have this protection by the Father through the Holy Spirit. When Jesus says, “…their angels behold the face of my Father…” he is speaking of the Holy Spirit within each person given by God. The Holy Spirit has full access to all that the Father has to give for Jesus says of the Holy Spirit, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:13-15)

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