If I hired someone to look after my sheep and they deserted the 99 to go after the one lost sheep, I would fire him.
It's such a dereliction of duty and responsibility. Who in their right mind leaves the 99 to fend for themselves while going after the one lost sheep?
I always saw the parable from a business perspective. A shepherd is hired to care for 100 sheep and one goes astray. It would be crazy to jeopardize the safety of the 99 to go after the 1 lost sheep.
The Parable of the Lost Sheep is found at the beginning of Luke 15 where there is a series of three Lost and Found parables: The Parable of the Lost Sheep, the Parable of the Lost Coin, and the Parable of the Lost Son (better known as the Prodigal Son).
The setting of these parables is set in by the gospel writer Luke, "Now the tax collectors and sinners (the "bad" people) were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law (the really "good" people) muttered, 'This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.'"
It is in this context where Jesus tells the three parables.
After 43 years, I think I finally get why the shepherd must leave the 99 to go after the one lost sheep.
I have four kids. Imagine if someone were to take one of my kids or if one of my kids got lost.
If my kids were in danger, if my kids were lost, I would turn over heaven and earth to get my kids back. That's what dads do.
Not only would I be all about getting my kids back, but I would expect the rest of my family be all about getting our lost child/sibling back.
The reason why God expects the church to go after the one is because we're not talking about sheep as in commodities, but we're talking about sheep as in God's sons and daughters. And God is saying, "Hey family, nothing is more important than the eternal well-being of my family. You who are already in the family, you need to get in the game and do your part, doing whatever it takes, to find and bring back your lost siblings. That's what families do!"
And when we get stuck at, "But the music is too loud. I like the choir music. Why can't the kids dress more modestly"...it's got to drive our Father crazy!
Church, get out there. Be about the Father's business! Get your head in the game. It's never been about self-preservation.
It's always been about reaching every single person with the love of God.
Get out there!
There are way too many who are lost.