You Are Wrapped Around Jesus’ Shoulders

Posted on June 17, 2021

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By David Ettinger

A Touching Image
The setting was one of condemnation, but the Lord Jesus turned into one of the most touching images in the Bible.

As was His custom, Jesus was in the midst of those many considered undesirable: “Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near Jesus to listen to Him” (Luke 15:1). This assembly was not lost on Israel’s religious leaders, as verse 2 tells us: “And both the Pharisees and the scribes began to complain, saying, ‘This man receives sinners and eats with them.’”

The Lord could have reacted likewise, lambasting the Pharisees and scribes for their denunciations, but chose a far better path.

Lost Sheep
Jesus, as He had done often, compared the unsaved – in this case, the tax collectors and “sinners” – to the most helpless of creatures: “And so He told them this parable, saying, ‘What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the other ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?” (vv. 3-4).

This was language the Israelites well understood. Whether shepherd, priest, scribe, Pharisee, or Sadducee, Israel knew all about sheep; after all, the sacrificial system depended on them.

Jesus continued: “And when he has found it [the lost sheep], he puts it on his shoulders, rejoicing. … I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance” (vv. 5, 7).

Great truth is taught here, but it is the imagery which stands out. I suppose a shepherd could put a leash around a sheep’s neck and guide the little fella home. But in this account, the shepherd places the sheep around his shoulders. He does so lovingly and gently, making sure his charge is secure in the warmth of his protection.

You Are That Sheep!
Beautiful imagery indeed, but far more than that. Have you ever considered that you are that sheep? Before salvation, you were a helpless lost soul roaming planet Earth without reason or purpose. More than that, you were an object of destruction. Just as a lone sheep would soon be devoured by much stronger animal, so were you condemned to an eternal separation from God in fiery destruction.

Yet in your helplessness and condemnation, the Great Shepherd – the Lord Jesus Christ – picked you up, wrapped you around His shoulders and said to you: “You are mine. As I lovingly have wrapped you around my shoulders, so will I wrap my love around you. You are condemned no longer; but are the recipient of My love.”

Indeed, you are still that sheep wrapped around His shoulders. Oh sure, you may drift off at times, wander from the pasture, and explore the deserts of sin. But you have not wandered out of the realm of God’s love. He rejoiced when you came to a saving faith in Him. In fact, all of Heaven rejoiced at that moment.

And Jesus still rejoices over you (Zephaniah 3:17)! Were you 15 when you gave your life to Him and are now 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, or 90 years old? Even so, you are that same helpless sheep – perhaps a little graying and wrinkled – but still that sheep wrapped around your Lord’s shoulders!

Though difficulties await us all before our final homegoing, let us never forget that we are wrapped around our Savior’s broad and loving shoulders, and that He continues to rejoice over us!

David Ettinger is a writer/editor at Zion’s Hope, Inc., and has written for Zion’s Fire magazine since its inception in 1990.