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, I tell you the truth, 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 be lost. Matthew 18:12-14
I was thinking about these words of Jesus when I went to bed last night. When I woke up this morning I was still returning them. It’s such a profound and amazing thought, this idea of Jesus pursuing us; looking for us and wanting to have us back with him.
Human logic would say, “Hey, you have the ninety-nine. One lost doesn’t make that much difference. Casualties are inevitable. Just let it go.”
The world would speak of survival of the fittest and how this is just natural that some of the sheep get lost. True, it does lead these lost ones to death because sheep just aren’t smart enough to make it on their own, but that’s just the way things work. If the sheep were smart enough to stay with the shepherd it wouldn’t have happened.
But this isn’t human logic, this isn’t the world, this is Jesus. And Jesus has his own value system. He has his own set of priorities. His standard operating procedure doesn’t line up with the rest of us. He is a pursuing God who doesn’t take wandering off or the loss of the weak and stupid as just “the way things work.” Just as God came looking for Adam and Eve, he comes looking for us.
As I think on this explanation Jesus gives about he and the Father’s mindset regarding us (the sheep) I can almost hear the words under the words. I can almost hear Jesus saying, “You often think I’ve hidden from you. You speak as if this is some game I play standing aloof and far off while you struggle to find me, to see me, to hear me. But I have not hidden from you. You have wandered off from me. And even as you struggled to find me, even as you blame me for being hard to see and hear I am coming or you. I have left the ninety-nine to seek you out. You are so valuable to me.”
The love of Jesus is reckless. He leaves the ninety-nine to find the one! This is not playing it safe or calculating the overall bottom line to ensure that at the end of the day he at least has more with him than he lost. No, this is reckless pursuit of the one—the wandering one.
The love of Jesus is a bit irrational. Happier about finding the one that was lost than the ninety-nine that didn’t wander off? How does that work? Shouldn’t he reward the faithful and scold the wanderer? Shouldn’t he lift up the ninety-nine who stayed put and just let the wanderer suffer the fate it chose for itself?
This is the love of Jesus. It doesn’t do safe and it doesn’t choose logical. It is reckless and irrational. It is pure and unconditional love. It is God becoming flesh to suffer ridicule and die a horrible death so that we who didn’t even know we needed him could have a chance at being found.
Jesus loves us—wandering hearts and all. Why? Because he is Jesus. And he loves recklessly and irrationally. He loves those he has created and pursues our wandering hearts.
Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:7-8