Imagine this: The sun is going down. The sheep are in the pen. The exhausted shepherd can’t wait to put down his staff. But first he has to count the flock. 97, 98, 99 . . . wait. He only has 99. He squints out at the field, looking for a patch of white wool. Nothing. So he tightens the straps of his sandals and grips his staff with resolve. He knows it will be work. He will go down into the valley, climb up the mountain, plunge into the shadows ready to fight any wolf who took away his one. That’s what love does. Love leaves. Love looks.
This is what Jesus did for us. By nature, we wandered from the flock of God’s family. Even after becoming one of God’s faithful, we still are prone to wander. But Jesus loved us enough to look. “Will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?” (Matthew 18:12).
Jesus could have just stayed and prayed in heaven, but he didn’t. He left the comfort of that place to look for us. His love compelled him to go and get us. And when he did, he didn’t drag us home with a lecture about being a stupid sheep. No, he was so happy to have us back that he called every angel he knew and told them to get ready to party. “Truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off” (Matthew 18:13).
What a Shepherd! What a Savior!