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? 
Matthew 18:12 (ESV)

Have you ever lost track of your kids, even for just a moment? That stomach sinking feeling of panic begins to set in quickly as you start a desperate search. Suddenly, nothing else matters more than finding your lost child (even if he is just playing hide-n-seek within the rows of chairs after church). Never has your purpose become more focused and clear. No matter how much time has passed, what a feeling of relief and joy you have when you find your lost child!

Jesus here in Matthew 18 is describing that joy! What an incredible thought that the God of all creation values us, His sheep, so much that when we are gathered safely with Him (John 10:28), He rejoices over it. This simple and short parable is a such tremendous insight into the heart of our Lord--every one of us is immensely precious to Him.

As a father myself, if I looked across the dinner table to see one of my own children missing, it would be absolutely bonkers to think, “I have three more children, why would I worry or care where one is?” We care for our children and would do everything possible, no matter the cost, to find that one who was lost and missing. At the cost of His son, God the Father will find all His lost sheep and bring them close to be like Him and with Him forever (Gal. 2:20).

In 1874, musician Ira Sankey, while traveling in Scotland with the evangelist Dwight L. Moody, wrote music to the poem, “The Ninety and Nine”. The last stanza of this old hymn and poem illustrates the truth of our Lord’s parable.

And all through the mountains, thunder-riven,
And up from the rocky steep,
There arose a glad cry to the gate of heaven,
"Rejoice! I have found My sheep!"
And the angels echoed around the throne,
"Rejoice, for the Lord brings back His own!"

As believers and followers of Jesus, we can grab hold of a tremendous amount of comfort that God Himself sought us out first, found us, and will never lose us through His perfect love (1 John 4:13-19). We can rejoice because the Lord always brings back His own!

Further Study
  • Psalm 23
  • Psalm 36
  • Psalm 98
  • Romans 8:38-39
  • Video: (Andrew Peterson)
  • Video: (Guy Penrod)

by Eric Adams, Deacon

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