“Then Jesus told them this parable: ‘Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’” – Luke 15: 3-7
I remember the year my aunt and uncle took their four kids to New York City on vacation. One day, while leaving the subway, they turned around to find their youngest son staring wide-eyed from behind the train’s closed doors. My uncle frantically ran alongside the subway train, beating on the doors as it took off. Three of his four kids were fine, but it was that one potentially lost child that immediately consumed all his attention. (Don’t worry, he was found.)
Jesus is always concerned about that one lost individual. It doesn’t mean that He loves the others less, but He goes out of His way to seek out the lost, the broken, and the marginalized.
In Luke 5: 30-32, the Pharisees asked Jesus point-blank why He spent so much time with those whom they viewed as “sinners.” Jesus answered simply: “It’s not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.”
To emphasize His point, Jesus told a parable: When a shepherd notices that a single sheep is missing, he leaves behind the rest of the flock to search for the one that is lost. Once found, that shepherd calls all his neighbors together to celebrate the return of that lone lost sheep.
Many times in Scripture, Jesus is referred to as the Good Shepherd and His followers as sheep. The analogy is that like any good shepherd, Jesus loves, cares for, and protects ALL His sheep; but He’s especially burdened by those sheep that are missing. And when even one of those missing sheep is found, all of heaven rejoices (Luke 15: 7).
Have you walked away from God? You probably have many reasons for keeping your distance, but Jesus’ heart is for you – not against you. Like a father who has lost a child, Jesus is consumed by the thought of you. He won’t give up on you; He won’t stop pursuing you – no matter how far away you’ve wandered. Will you look to Him today? You won’t be disappointed.