Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him. And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, “This Man receives sinners and eats with them.” So He spoke this parable to them, saying: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance. (Luke 15:1-7)
A Father’s Love For The One
From birth, every child needs to feel loved and cared for. There is reliance upon someone to protect, nourish and care for the needs of the baby because it is helpless without it. In the family of God, the greatest joy knows that the Father cares for everyone and He cares for the individual. It is easy to see how the heavenly Father will care for all men but it is sometimes difficult to remember that He cares for the one as much as he cares for the millions of others. Jesus shared a parable about the worth of the individual in the mind of God. A man with one hundred sheep has many animals to look after. Each one is unique in their own way; some are easily cared for – others more difficult. If a man loses one sheep the loss is one percent. In the business world this would be an accepted loss but not so in the family of God. One sheep is as important as the ninety-nine because the love of the Father is just as great for the one as the many.
The parable Jesus told is vital to make a practical application of the Father’s care for the individual. No one is unimportant to God. There can be a lot of reasons the sheep was lost. It could have been his own fault, carelessness, fear, bad choice or a number of reasons. The real message is the one lost sheep mattered to the shepherd because he cared for the one as much as the ninety-nine. Realizing the one sheep is lost, the shepherd begins an arduous task of looking for the lost sheep. That is a lot of work, time and energy to find one lost sheep. The shepherd does it willingly because of his love. He does not stop until he finds the lost sheep and rejoices with friends and neighbors when he returns home. Jesus makes the application that when one sinner repents, the halls of heaven resound with the joyous praise of the angels. There is greater joy over the one than the ninety and nine.
Losing one sheep may not matter to a businessman but losing one soul means a great deal to the Father. It is gratifying to know God cares that much for the one. He understands our needs and through His love desires to bless us with His personal touch. Consider how fearful the sheep would be lost in the wilderness. The greatest comfort he would have is to know his shepherd is looking for him. We fail our Father often. Yet, we know He loves us enough to seek us and implores us to return. When we restore our spirits in the arms of the Savior, He forgives us and the angels of Heaven rejoice. Think about this for a moment: one sinner who repents makes noise in Heaven. The Father’s love makes that joy possible because He cares than much for me. Never think you are not important to the Father. The Father cares for the ninety-nine but He cares deeply for the one. And that is YOU.
God is beautiful. He is the most beautiful of all beings, because … His beauty is without change or vicissitude, without increase or diminution. (Jacques Maritain, The Philosophy of Art, 1923)