“What do you think? If a man has 100 sheep, and one of them goes astray, won’t he leave the 99 on the hillside and go and search for the stray? And if he finds it, I assure you: He rejoices over that sheep more than over the 99 that did not go astray. In the same way, it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones perish.” (Matthew 18:12–14 HCSB)

What strikes me in this short metaphorical story from Jesus is the emphasis upon the value of the individual in the realm of the Kingdom of Heaven.  What one sheep is so important that 99 are left to pursue it?  From the level of earth it makes no sense, far better to protect the 99 than to go find one lost, straying sheep.

The surprise in this story is that the 99 are left so that the one can be pursued and found.  We are not meant to consider the fate of the 99—as if they were to be left unattended to be killed by wolves—the focus in this story is on the one little lost sheep, the other details are merely to support this main emphasis.  Jesus surprises us here and in so doing he resets our values and our understanding of the worth of every individual who is a follower of Christ.

As Francis Schaeffer once preached, in the Kingdom of Heaven there are no little people and no little places.

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