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In the parable of the lost sheep, a shepherd had one hundred sheep. One of the sheep was lost and he left the ninety-nine sheep behind in the wilderness and went in search of the lost sheep. By doing so, the shepherd braved the dangers of the night and exposed himself to possible attacks from wild beasts. Finally from crossing the undulating terrains of the wilderness, completely exhausted, he was rewarded with the recovery of the lost sheep. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” Jesus was that good shepherd who had lain down His life to save sinners. As the Son of the Most High God, He left the glory of Heaven and incarnated as man of humble status. For our sakes, to save and redeem us from our sins, He suffered humiliation, scourging, and was nailed to the cross as a criminal enduring a most cruel death on earth. For by His scourging we were healed and by His death we inherited eternal life. The Lord in attempt to save us — the lost sheep, paid the greatest price on earth!

The contrast between the ninety-nine sheep with one lost sheep in the parable was not meant to be an illustration of numbers to emphasize the insignificance of the lost sheep and how the Lord was willing to save that sheep in spite of having ninety-nine remaining. What the Lord wanted to reveal was a truth that would shock all the Pharisees and scribes that were present. The lost sheep that was found represented the tax collectors and sinners; while the ninety-nine “un-lost” sheep and the ninety-nine righteous persons who did not need repentance represented the Pharisees and the scribes. The Pharisees and scribes were sheep that did not require the shepherd to look for them; they were also the righteous persons that needed no repentance. The Pharisees and scribes were a people proud in their own sight and considered themselves more honourable than the tax collectors and prostitutes. They believed that if God were to choose the better between them, even with all the tax collectors and prostitutes added together, they would not rival even one of them. The Lord however was about to reveal a bitter truth that would completely shatter their belief. Between the ninety-nine sheep that were not lost and the one lost in the wilderness, the Lord Jesus chose the one that was lost and left the ninety-nine in the wilderness! When the lost sheep was found by the shepherd, he rejoiced over it and invited his friends and neighbours together and celebrated, signifying that whenever a sinner is saved by the Lord, there would be great rejoicing even by angels in Heaven over that repented sinner. What about the ninety-nine sheep that remained in the open country? They had all been forgotten! The Son of God and the heavenly hosts had completely ignored the ninety-nine righteous persons who needed no repentance! The Lord wanted the Pharisees and scribes to understand that both He and the heavenly hosts regarded each and every tax collector or prostitute more precious than any one of them. Let alone ninety-nine Pharisees and scribes, even with all of them added together, they would still not compare to one single repentant tax collector or prostitute! The sinners that the Pharisees and scribes despised were the very ones that God deemed valuable and worthy to enter the kingdom of Heaven.

Those words spoken by the Lord were great news to the tax collectors and prostitutes, rekindling the hope in their heart that God had not forsaken them. On the other hand, the Pharisees and scribes must be burning with rage and dying to lay their hands on Jesus to tear Him apart. They, who viewed themselves more superior than the common people of Israel, were now not even considered worthy of a single tax collector or prostitute, how could they swallow it and not bear a bitter hatred towards Jesus?