He rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine.
More rejoicing over finding one lost sheep than the ninety-nine that stayed where they were supposed to be? That sounds backwards. Doesn’t Jesus expect us not to stray? Doesn’t he want us to follow him faithfully and obediently?
Of course he does! And of course he rejoices over our faithful obedience. But Jesus also wants to do for us what he was trying to do for Israel’s religious leaders when he first told this parable: he wants to turn our vision upside down in order to teach us how to value what he values.
Of course Jesus loves and values every one of us. But when it comes to the unsettled, the confused, or those mired in sin—these people tug at his heart in a special way. He doesn’t want to see any of these people get lost or left behind. And neither does he want us, his disciples, to turn away from them. He wants us to share our love, our faith, and our material resources with them.
This call to care for those who are wandering often requires two shifts in our perspective. First, we need to take on Jesus’ vision so that we actually “see” people who have strayed. It’s easy to live in a world of our own making, safely cut off from anyone who is different from us. How can we care for someone if we don’t notice them?
Second, we need to take on Jesus’ heart by moving from judgment to compassion. We can be tempted to look at those wandering and search for character flaws that may have caused them to take a wrong turn. But unless we replace our judgmental attitudes with respect and goodwill, we won’t be able to help them or lead them back to the Lord.
Take a look today at your disposition toward the people you tend to judge harshly. It could be a group of people, like the tax collectors, who upset many of the Pharisees in Jesus’ day. Or it could be just one or two people you know. Ask God to forgive you for any negative attitudes you might have toward them, and tell him you want to learn how to love them. Let Jesus open your eyes. Let him soften your heart.
Word Among Us