Saturday, May 12: He is happier about that one sheep
We return to our occasional reading from beginning to end through the Gospel of Matthew, which emphasizes Jesus' divine nature and his status as the Messiah—as the Son of David, the Son of Man, and the Son of God.
Read Matthew 18:10-14
"See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.
"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."
Time and again, Matthew shows how Jesus' ways are incompatible with the practices and principles we humans use to "make the world go round," as if we could do such a thing ourselves. If we each had a hundred sheep and one wandered off, it's likely a great many of us, though we'd wish we could help the wanderer, would think of the wolves we imagined behind every rock and then write that little lamb off as a loss, so we could stay to protect its 99 sheep cousins—and ourselves. But not Jesus, and not his followers, either, he says here. His gut reaction is, and ours should be, not only to drop everything and pursue the one, but also, if it returns home, much like the prodigal son, to throw a giant party, and even to value the reckless returnee more than the straightlaced stayers.
Lord, make us bold shepherds, ready to pursue the prodigals and to rejoice their return. Remind us that it's not the 99 who need a savior, but the one. Amen.