I’ve always thought that the parable of the lost sheep was a little odd. Jesus asks of His listeners which of them “having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it?” (Luke 15:4) It doesn’t make much sense really. It’s a minor loss, and the risk to the rest seems a bit high. But, as a parent, I know that if one of my children wanders down a dangerous path, that’s the one that will get the most attention. It’s not enough to rest on my laurels and say that at least I have the others doing well. I’m going in deep, and going to do whatever I can, and so will every other parent I know. When we come to the other side, we will rejoice, and so will all who know us. It’s not that the others aren’t valued, it is that the need is so much greater for the one. It’s the same in this story. Each one of us has immeasurable value and will never be dismissed as worthless, no matter how far we may have wandered.
So to them he addressed this parable, “What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it? And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy and, upon his arrival home, he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have not need of repentance. – Luke 15:3-7