Read Luke 15:1–7
Jesus presents a parable about finding lost sheep.
If you have one hundred sheep and one wanders off, Jesus tells us, that’s the one you go after to rescue. Isn’t the one as valuable as each of the ninety-nine who have been accounted for? In natural disasters and time of war, medical personnel often perform something they call triage. It means that they examine the injured and determine which have the best chance of living. They concentrate their efforts on those they think they can save—and, with regret, allow the others to die, or perhaps to rally and recover on their own.
But Jesus doesn’t do triage. He leaves the healthy ninety-nine safe in their pens while he goes out into the night looking for the one who is lost, sick, depressed, disappointed, wounded, or enslaved. When he has found it, he lays it across his shoulders and calls together his neighbors to celebrate.
How could an almighty God do any less? Can you imagine what his message to us would be otherwise? “I’ll come after you and save you—if I’m not too busy saving others, and if my attention isn’t needed keeping these other ninety-nine safe.
That, I believe, is why Jesus told story after story about how easy it is to be lost—and how remarkable it is to be saved. Stories of people hopeless and hurting. People who need living water, people whose souls are tattered, people who are watching the dark close in around them, people whose time is running out.
In Luke’s gospel, chapter 15, he tells of a lost sheep. This story, he told his followers, will remind you of something I want you always to remember: No matter how deep the pit or dark the night, I will always look for you and rescue you because I love you with an everlasting love. You are precious to me. Even when you mess up, even when you’re careless or mistaken or afraid or broken or weak, I still love you. Even when you are incapable of doing anything for anyone, including yourself, I still love you. And just as I come to you, I come for all those who have made mistakes, those who are overlooked, and those who have been devalued and despised.
I come for all the wrong people—the careless and uncared for, the merry and the miserable. I come for the lost, even if that’s a single silly sheep.
Do you need to be rescued? Call out to God and he will find you. He promises to come after each one, because each one is precious to him. Each one.