Jesus had just given the disciples a lesson about the humbleness of children and how we should seek to be like little children. He went on to warn about the severe punishment for those who mistreat God’s children.
“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, won’t he leave the other ninety-nine to go look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds the lost sheep, isn’t he happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off? In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any single one of his children should perish.”
What the story means to us today
Each of us is important to God
This is one of the shortest but most touching stories regrading God’s love for us. Jesus uses an analogy of a shepherd and a lost sheep to describe how much God loves us. Jesus teaches that each of us is important enough to warrant individual attention from God.
Additional thoughts and considerations
God’s feels pain for those who abandon their faith
“If a man owns a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the other ninety-nine on the hill and go looking for the one that wandered off?”
The Hebrew word used for “wander away” also means “gone astray”. The word is often used to describe a person who has abandoned their faith. The story’s lesson fits such a person equally well.
It surely pains God to see someone who has lost hope and abandoned their faith. Each of us are his children and are important in his eyes – even those who are lost.
How do you regain lost faith? Pray, of course, and ask God to remind you of the time when faith was important in your life, how much stronger you were, how comforting it felt. Count your blessings, not your pain, and God will help you find your way back.
The science and history behind the story
Shepherds in ancient Israel
Shepherds are often used in New Testament analogies. No other profession risked everything to protect something that was worth less than the protector. But shepherds were used in analogies for another reason too. In ancient Israel, shepherds were considered uncivilized and low class. This humble profession fits the symbolization of persecuted Christians who were also considered lesser than others at the time.
12 “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.
The New International Version. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011. Print.
The NET Bible
18:12 What do you think? If someone owns a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go look for the one that went astray? 18:13 And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. 18:14 In the same way, your Father in heaven is not willing that one of these little ones be lost.
Biblical Studies Press. The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press, 2006. Print.
New King James Version
12 “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? 13 And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. 14 Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.
12–14 “Look at it this way. If someone has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders off, doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine and go after the one? And if he finds it, doesn’t he make far more over it than over the ninety-nine who stay put? Your Father in heaven feels the same way. He doesn’t want to lose even one of these simple believers.
Peterson, Eugene H. The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2005. Print.
King James Version
12 How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? 13 And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. 14 Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.
The Holy Bible: King James Version. Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version. Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009. Print.