Ninety-Nine and One
Scripture Reading — Luke 15:1-7
“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them.”
—Luke 15:4 —
There is a famous saying among Jewish rabbis: “Whoever saves one soul, saves the whole world.” Its wisdom is deeper than what is called “common sense.” It is deeper than the famous Zen saying, “Imagine the sound of one hand clapping,” which is designed to jar a person into moving beyond the limits of reason.
Some people are “numbers people,” and their contribution to the orderly functioning of society and the body of Christ is indispensable. But in order to understand Jesus’ story of the shepherd who leaves a flock of 99 to search for just one lost sheep, we must remember how God made each of us in his own image.
Glenn Tinder of the University of Massachusetts speaks about the infinite value of one human being because we are made in God’s image. And C. S. Lewis criticized the vulgarity of those who seek to make us feel as insignificant as dust because the universe is so huge and we are so small.
Missionaries treasure this parable because they must sometimes work years in a stubborn land to lead one lost person to Christ.
Never allow yourself to think that you count for nothing. Christ died to rekindle the spark of the image of God placed within you that makes you human.
O Son of Man, there are so many things that are too amazing for me to understand—such as your love for the lost, and me among them. Thank you. In your name, Amen.