Matthew 18:12, 14 (NLT) “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn’t wander away! In the same way, it is not my heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish.”
Jesus was having a time of teaching with His disciples when He posed a question, using a story. The story was about a shepherd who has a hundred sheep under his care, and one of them wanders off. He posed the question to the disciples asking them, "what do you think the shepherd will do?" Jesus then gives them the answer and relates the story and the answer to the Father, helping the disciples understand the heart that God has for people who are lost and dying. One lost person is important to God. So much so that He will do anything to save them. Better said, He has already done everything to save them. He sent the Son, Jesus, to sacrifice His life by taking our sins on Himself and paying the penalty for them by dying an excruciating, painful death on the Cross of Calvary. He went on to say that the Father is more joyful for the one that was saved than for the ninety-nine that weren't lost. That just shows God's extreme love for each one of us.
But what about the ninety-nine that were left behind? Would they be left feeling abandoned and forgotten about? Not at all. The best way to explain this is by telling another story. Suppose a father who has six children and lives in a house near the beach and one day a huge, rogue wave crashes across the shore and into the house, causing it to be flooded. The father immediately goes into action, rounding up the children to get them out and bring them to the safety of higher ground. When he gets them all there, he realizes that one of them is missing! What do you think he'll do? Won't he leave the five children that are safely on higher ground and rush into that house to save his one missing child?
That is the beautiful picture that Jesus painted for us of our Heavenly Father. His love is so amazing, and His saving power is so great that He can keep those of us that have a saving knowledge of Him through our Lord Jesus safe on safe and holy ground while He goes after those that are still lost. The story is not about Him forgetting everyone that has come to Him to go after those who have not, but about a God that loves everyone and who is able to safekeep His children while going after sinners, because He doesn't want anyone to be lost for eternity (2 Peter 3:9). Anyone that does wind up losing eternal life does it despite everything that God has done to provide salvation for them.
Are you one of the ninety-nine? You are absolutely safe in His arms. Are you the one who is lost? The Lord will find you. Allow Him to save you, pick you up and bring you home to safety.
Pastor Joey Vazquez