"So He told them this parable, saying, 'What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!" I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance' " (Luke 15:3-7).
In my first post regarding the lost sheep, I told about misplacing a sweet little cowgirl at Vacation Bible School. As I pondered this parable, I also thought of Bowe Bergdahl's present circumstances. He too is missing (though unlike Dale Evans, he truly is in danger) and I think of him all the time and pray that the Lord will protect him and allow him to be rescued and returned home. I pray that the Lord is enabling him to be strong and to cling to his convictions. I pray that he is clinging to God and the truths he was raised to believe.
Though I have thought of these two situations in light of the parable, it does not specifically apply to them. The principle it's truth is clothed with - the reality that people are precious, and when one of them is lost, he or she must be found - is certainly legitimate, but the kingdom truth behind it goes beyond a temporal restoration. The parable is speaking to people who do not know Jesus Christ, but will before they die.
In the parable, Jesus is the Shepherd and you (if you are His child, but do not yet know Him) are His lost sheep. He is pursuing you and He will continue to do so until you are found. He is on your heels even now, causing you to consider your life, your actions, your sins. His desire is that you acknowledge your sinful life and turn to Him for forgiveness. If you do that, He will forgive your sins and embrace you and there will be rejoicing in the Heavens.
"O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth, Who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens!" - Psalm 8:1
I love this parable because it vividly illustrates the Lord's concern for people, in spite of our wretchedness. He planned for this before the foundations of the world. He determined to die for us and make it possible for us to live for all eternity in heaven, even with full knowledge of the depth of our depravity and the lengths we would go to to sin against Him.
"When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained; what is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than God, and You crown him with glory and majesty! You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea, whatever passes through the paths of the seas. O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!" (Psalm 8:3-9).
Our position has nothing to do with us and everything to do with our loving, just, merciful, gracious, sovereign Lord.