“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? 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. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.
Matthew 18: 12 – 14
During this ongoing pandemic many of us have felt lost, lonely, discouraged and perhaps even at times we have found ourselves questioning our faith. This makes this parable all the more powerful and pertinent.
In the parable the 99 represent the Pharisees. The Pharisees did not understand why Jesus chose to spend his time amongst people they regarded as sinners. They figured they were far more important and that he should be spending all his time with them. Jesus wanted to illustrate very clearly to his disciples that he wanted to go out and find the lost. These were the very people who needed him the most.
A shepherd in Palestine in these times had a very tough job; he protected his flock from all sorts of wild animals and considered each and every single one of his sheep to be important to the flock. This is exactly the kind of care God wants for all of us. He doesn’t want even one of his flock to go astray. He had seen mankind go astray and so sent his son to find us. He wants us as Christians to do the same through our faith. It is our duty to care for the lost, the lonely and the discouraged with his help. How fortunate we are to have the greatest shepherd of them all looking out for us.
Prayer: Loving, caring God, You care for each one of us in a way we are often undeserving of. Help us to remember that your love and protection is forever with us even if we should stray from your path. Give us the strength to be good shepherds and help us to use our faith to reach out to the lost and the lonely particularly in these trying times.
Action: Reach out to someone who you think may be struggling or feeling lost in these worrying times. A phone call, Zoom call, email, text or even a letter may be the answer to their prayers.