“What do you think? 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? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the 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 perish.”
How do we square this Jesus with the one who talks about burning weeds in a blazing furnace? Why would a God of judgment and wrath send a Shepherd to search for one lost sheep? Truth is, we love this Jesus, the Good Shepherd who leaves the 99 to “seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10). But we would rather ignore the Jesus who talks about the fires of hell and the gnashing of teeth. We prefer the God of grace to the God of judgment, but Jesus doesn’t let us pick and choose which aspects of God’s perfect, unchanging nature we want to hear about. Jesus told the whole truth about God, and that means we need to hear about God’s perfect justice that leads him to judge sinners for their sin, rightly condemning those who never repent or seek forgiveness. Without God’s justice, He could not be good, and we wouldn’t understand the difference between right and wrong. At the same time, God’s heart is loving and kind, full of mercy for sinners, “not willing that any of these little ones should perish.”
That’s why Jesus came into the world. He came to be the Good Shepherd who looks for the lost sheep. Jesus is happy every time a sinner is saved, because God takes no delight in judgment but delights to show us grace. God’s heart overflows with love for you and me and all the other sinners in this world. The Good Shepherd came to save us.
This little parable teaches us about God’s heart and about Jesus’ mission. It also reminds us that Jesus asks his followers to join the search and rescue operation. Now, the church works alongside the Good Shepherd, caring for his sheep and searching for those who wander off. When one is found, when Jesus saves a sinner, we join him in rejoicing.
Lord Jesus, I praise You for Your mercy and grace. Thank You for finding me when I was lost and washing away my sin. Show me how I can help You search for other lost sheep and bring them home to Your loving arms. I pray in Your good name. Amen.
Pastor Mike Mirakian