What is your opinion? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray? And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray. In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost. (Matthew 18:12-14)
“The one lost sheep might already be dead, but a stupid shepherd leaves the ninety-nine exposed to danger. He does not wait for the lost one to repent and come back on its own feet. He goes to whatever dangerous place the one lost sheep is in. He picks it up and carries its burdened soul instead of telling it off.”
Stupid shepherd. That phrase stuck with me. We’ve heard this reading so often that we forget how ridiculous it is for a shepherd to leave nearly all of his flock, to leave them vulnerable, in order to go after the one sheep the wandered away. Jesus is describing our Heavenly Father as a stupid shepherd. Then, throughout his public ministry, Christ embodied that kind of reckless shepherding. Jesus avoided places of honor among the religious ninety-nine of his day and he actively sought out the people they had shunned from the community.