I remember when I heard the story by Jesus, "The Parable of the Lost Sheep" how struck I was by it. Here this shepherd has one hundred sheep, right?, and one of the the little guys wanders off. Well, in my New Yorker mind I thought- okay, no big deal, the guy, I mean shepherd, has ninety-nine more. What's the problem? No real loss here, it's just one out of so many. Move on and stop your belly-aching.
It says, "If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?" (Matthew 18:12)
I remember being so truly surprised by this. "Go to look for the one that wandered off" leaving the other ninety-nine behind? Is that really smart? I mean seriously the guy goes off to look for the one, maybe finds it, maybe not, comes back to the others and now they are all gone-what happens then? This doesn't sound like a very good plan. What was so special about this lamb anyway? I'm totally serious- I did not get this parable at all when I first heard it.
The more I have read this story over the years and have read it to my children, I see it's not so much about the "worth" of the lamb as it is about the love the shepherd had for his lamb. Jesus is the Great Shepherd and He is all and only about love. It says in 1 John 4:8b "...God is love." The Great Shepherd loves us, His lambs, and would do everything He could to find us. He will not just let us go off and wander, get lost, or leave. He searches for us until He finds us.
"And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about hte ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost." (Matthew 18:13)
Isn't that amazing? Only Jesus would or could tell a story like that to convey His love for us. Jesus loves us. I am testimony of His love and His tracking me down and bringing me home- time and time again. Not once in my time of following Jesus have I ever felt, "I blew it this time-Jesus will abandon me now." Nope. Even when I had strayed from Him, at my lowest point in my life, I still cried out to Him and He came running. I don't know how He cares for not just "one-hundred" sheep, but billions of us down here, but HE does. He knows each one of us by name and will not allow one of us to be lost. That's some great love.