10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.
12 What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray?
13 And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray.
14 So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.
This is one of the most famous parables shared by Jesus—the parable of "The Lost Sheep" or the parable of "The Seeking Shepherd." It holds a great message for both the believer and the unbeliever, and Jesus applied it to both. Two things show this, (1) the words "these little ones" refer to genuine Christian believers, and the word "perish" refers to the lost, and (2) on this particular occasion Jesus was speaking to His disciples.
Some believers are weak, never having grown in the Lord; others cool off and wander away; still others backslide into sin and shame. Some are stubborn toward the Lord, and some become self-centered because of hurt and neglect. Others allow the hurt and neglect to develop into bitterness and hostility against a person, and go out and sin in anger. There are innumerable reasons for sinning, but believers do sin and some sin rather seriously.
Jesus came to save the lost. This is the Messiah's great statement of purpose; this is why He came to earth. He came to save the lost.
Jesus forgave and rejoiced over the recovered sheep. The extreme joy was not because the lost sheep meant more than the other sheep. The safe sheep have always filled the Shepherd with joy and peace, but there is a special moment of joy and celebration when a lost sheep is found. There are at least two reasons for this. First, the lost sheep was almost lost forever, never to be known again or to share in and contribute to the life of the flock. All that the lost sheep meant and was capable of contributing was almost lost forever. There is bound to be great joy and glory over his being snatched out of the claws of danger and death. Second, the lost sheep cost so much of the Shepherd's life: His thoughts, energy, effort, time, and sufferings. There is great joy and glory when the trial is over and the task is successful. The effort was well worth the price.
We should also note the great appeal to the lost sheep to return to the Shepherd. There is...
• no grudging
• no contempt
• no lecture
• no rebuke
• no threat
• no punishment
• only love
• only concern
• only seeking
Just as a shepherd is concerned enough about one lost sheep to go search the hills for it, so God is concerned about every human being He has created (He is "not willing that any should perish" [2 Peter 3:9]). You come in contact with children who need Christ at home, at school, in church, and in the neighborhood. Steer them toward Christ by your example, your words, and your acts of kindness.
Because of Jesus,