“Jesus said to his disciples: ‘What is your opinion? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray?. . . In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.'”
This is a familiar teaching of Jesus, intended to illustrate God’s mercy. He seeks the lost; He knows the ninety-nine are safe in the hills, so He is able to go in search of the one who is lost.
Today, though, I found myself wondering about the man Jesus uses as an example. I mean, would a human shepherd really leave ninety-nine sheep to search for one who is lost? Wouldn’t the ninety-nine be more valuable than the one? That’s how human thinking works.
So perhaps Jesus is saying: Unlike a human shepherd who is forced to think in terms of material and financial value, God our Father is primarily concerned with spiritual value. The soul of one person (“sheep”) is of infinite value to Him. His love and mercy will not allow Him to disregard anyone – including people who disregard Him, who choose to wander away. God never ceases to call out and to search with love.
This teaching should fill us with great hope and peace regarding anyone who we think might be lost – and regarding ourselves, since we might be on the wrong path without realizing it, or we might wander off in the future. It’s thrilling to know that God is always there calling and searching – and loving.