Day 21 - The Ninety-Nine and the One

Day 21 - The Ninety-Nine and the One

Written by: Wendy Alligood

Matthew 18: 12-14
12 “What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying?
13. If it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than the ninety-nine which have not gone astray.
14 So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish.”

In this day and age it is pretty hard to get really lost. Some of us remember traveling without GPS and smartphones. Then, you could truly lose your way. As kids we played games such as hide-and-seek where the winner was the person who could stay “lost” for the longest period of time. Lostness is not as fun when you are a grown-up. It can have dire consequences here on Earth as well as eternal consequences.

I remember a time when my oldest child was quite young and decided to hide in a circular clothes rack in a large department store. As my friend and I searched for her, I grew more and more anxious until I was near panicking. I was about to call the store’s security and the police, fearing that she had been abducted. She finally decided she had won that round of hide-and-seek and came out. My extreme apprehension was instantly transformed to joy! The one who had been lost was now found!

Even if you have never been lost yourself, you have misplaced something or someone. You have experienced those feelings of dread and then happiness when what you were seeking was found. The Bible says that the Lord and heaven rejoice when the lost one is found!
In Jesus’s time, a flock of about 100 animals was typical. The shepherd knew his flock and cared for each individual. Unlike today when a large corporation might be willing to sacrifice 1% as long as they retained the other 99%, our Lord is concerned with each of His sheep and will search diligently for the one sheep who has gone astray. There is no such thing as an acceptable loss margin when it comes to our Lord.

The one lost sheep may be an unbeliever. The Lord desires for all to become believers, for all to be saved. When we become believers, we are brought into the safety of the sheep pen. This is a reminder to us that Jesus loves all sinners. He refers to them as “little ones”. Sometimes this literally means child, but it can also mean someone who is not a believer. Who do you know that is not safely in the sheep pen? The one may be on the fringes of our society. He may be homeless or a drug addict. She may be an unwed mother or a prostitute. He or she may be a church member. This parable reminds us that Jesus loves ALL and that we should, too.  Are you the one lost sheep that Jesus is seeking or do you know a lost sheep?

The one sheep may be a believer who is not following Jesus with his whole heart. What percentage of your life have you surrendered to Jesus? If it is not 100%, Jesus is searching for that missing part of you.
Unlike my experience with my daughter, Jesus is not searching for lost sheep in a panic. He knows exactly where they are. If you have never entered the sheep pen, He wants you to. If you have left the fold, He desperately wants you back. If you are in the fold, but have not surrendered 100% of yourself, He desires that you would. Turn to the safety of Jesus. 
There are still feelings of panic when a sheep is lost. But it is not Jesus who is feeling that way. We are the ones that feel anxious and fearful when we are not fully surrendered to Him. He wants us to surrender all, so that we can experience 100% of His peace. 

If you are not a believer, you are not safe. To be plain, you cannot go to heaven when you die without Jesus. Jesus is the only way to have true security. Just as the sheep are safe in the shepherd’s pen, believers are safe from the penalties of their sins when they believe. Your action step is to accept Jesus. There would be no better time than now as we near Easter. Easter is the celebration of Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection. When Jesus hung on the cross, He paid the penalty for all of our sins. When He rose from the tomb, He proved that He was the Son of God and had power over sin and the grave. Becoming a follower is easy. Please ask any of our leaders. 
If you are a believer, there are two action steps. One: examine yourself and prayerfully ask the Lord to reveal to you any areas that you have not surrendered fully to Him. Jesus doesn’t want 50% or 75% or even 99% of you. He wants all of you. Two: who do you know who is not safely in the sheep pen? The Lord wants that person brought in! Can He use you to bring that lost one in?

Dear Lord, 
Please help me to see myself as you see me. Am I lost, have I strayed,  or have I kept areas of my life from you? Lord, I desire to be 100% yours. Reveal any area of my life that I have not surrendered and give me the strength to admit it and turn it over to you now. Lord. I know that you love all people, all sinners. Thank you for loving them and for loving me. Please help me to see those around me with your eyes and remind me that you love them and want them to go to heaven to be with You when they die. If there is someone that I need to bring to You, please give me the courage to do so. Thank you for this time of the year when we focus on Your sacrifice that allows us to be cleansed of our sins and to go to heaven when we die. Thank you for caring as much for the one as You do for the 99.
Consider listening to these music videos:
The 99 by 7th Time Down
Reckless Love by Cory Asbury
Consider reading this same parable in Luke 15:3-7.