“Jesus told them this parable:Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home.'” Luke 15:4-6

Jesus cares for us as a Shepherd over his flock. Shepherds love their flock, knowing each individually and looking out for them. Jesus, our Shepherd, loves, guides and protects us. He provides for us, preserves us and keeps us from straying. And He will rescue us when we are lost.

What a loving picture of Jesus placing us upon His shoulders and carrying us back to the sheepfold! He rejoices when we have returned to Him. The idea of Jesus leaving behind the ninety-nine to pursue the one who is lost may not seem logical or sensible… unless the one He is pursuing is us. It brings us to a deeper understanding of His relentless love for each one of us.

“Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” — Luke 15:6-7

Are we following Christ… enjoying the Shepherd’s presence… one of the ninety-nine living in His blessing… His ideal pastureland? Or have we strayed from the flock?

Jesus longs for us to stay close to Him. He draws us to Himself by His Spirit. He wants us to follow Him all our days. Yet sometimes we stray from the flock.

Perhaps we were accidentally led astray… lured off His path… tempted by the world and sin. Maybe we wandered off… a wrong choice, a misguided judgment led us away from the flock. Or we may have set out on our own… doubting His guidance… thinking the grass is greener in a new pasture.

Whatever caused us to be separated from our Shepherd… we have not been lost to Him. The key is to recognize our “lostness”. When we look around and see that our straying has left us alone… adrift… and vulnerable to the “wolves”, we may wonder what to do. We may think we are forever lost and cannot return to the Shepherd.

Our wayward ways separate us from our Shepherd. Questions flood our minds… Will we be missed? Will He notice we are not with the flock? Have we fallen through the cracks? Has He abandoned us? What if He never finds us? Do we dare return after our wanderings? What if He disciplines us when we do return?

“You’re the One who never leaves the one behind.”“So Will I” — Hillsong UNITED

Shepherds know each of their sheep… their personalities, their tendencies, their weaknesses. They know the ones who may be curious to see the world. They know the ones who may stubbornly go their own way. They know the ones who may fall prey to temptation.

Jesus knows each of us personally as a shepherd. We have not surprised Him with our straying. He came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10). He has always kept His eye on us. He sought us out before we even knew we were straying. He found us before we could see that we were lost. We will never stray so far that we cannot return to our Shepherd. When we look around in our “lostness”, we see our Shepherd, our Savior there for us… ready to joyfully carry us home to Him. And all heaven rejoices!