“See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.”
Imagine that you’re the Sunday School superintendent and that you have 100 kids under your charge. Not too shabby a number. Let’s say one of them decides not to come to church. He’s given up, done with Jesus. But 99 kids are still coming to church. What would you do? Spend most of your time with the 99 “faithful” kids in church and maybe visit the “faithless” kid once or twice?
The Bible tells us what Jesus would do if he were Sunday School Superintendent. He skips the Sunday School classes and hunts down the kid who isn’t attending church. He goes to his house but he isn’t there. The mall? Yes, he finds him in a game arcade and pleads with him to come to church. The kid is overwhelmed by Jesus’ love and decides to go with him. Jesus fetches the kid back to Sunday School, screaming with unbridled joy as he runs down the church corridor, “I found him! I found him!” But the pastor stands there angry, arms folded and fires Jesus for abandoning the Sunday school class of 99 kids.
Sounds ridiculous? Let’s take a closer look.
I’ve always read the parable of the lost sheep and the one that got away in terms of the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15). But as I read this passage in another context in Matthew, Jesus used this parable to illustrate another point:
Jesus loves the little children.
Earlier in the chapter, Jesus warned sternly about not leading these little children into sin. The one who did led them to sin should drown himself in the deep sea. That’s how serious Jesus sees it. He then connects that thought by commanding his disciples not to look down on these little ones.
Guess what they did? In the next chapter, the disciples rebuked those parents who brought their children for Jesus to bless. Of course Jesus got mad! In some cultures, children are meant to be seen and not heard. They weren’t as important in the eyes of adults. But Jesus emphasized that the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. What’s going on? Jesus was teaching his disciples about the heart of our Father God.
Jesus explains it with a parable. He, as the shepherd, abandoned 99 sheep in the hills and went all out on a rescue mission for one lost sheep. One! That’s absurd isn’t it? Isn’t 99 enough? Well, not to Jesus. Why not?
Note carefully what he says when he finds the lost sheep. He is more happy to find a lost sheep than the 99 sheep who didn’t wander off. More! He did not say he was just as equally happy but more happy. What does that tell you? God rather we save the lost than merely serve the 99 sheep in the pen. God rather we evangelise the lost than focus about ways to feed the saved in churches. Specifically in regard to children’s ministry, are you reaching the lost or just serving the Christian ones in church?
If not, we’re sorely missing the heart of God. Jesus loves children, especially the lost. He would do anything to bring them to Him and bless them. Would you go all out to find even one lost child and bring them to Jesus?