“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?

Matthew 18:12 (NIV)

Jesus is coming back, but when He returns, will He find faith on earth? It may later on today, tomorrow, or many years from now, but He is coming back. When He returns, what will He find you doing?

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Matthew 24:36 (NIV)

I don’t know when the Lord is coming back. Will He return before He calls me home? Jesus doesn’t even know, and that’s saying something! What will I be doing when He returns?

As I was reading Matthew today, I read The Parable of the Lost Sheep again. I’m sure you’re familiar with this parable. A man has a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders off. Therefore, the man leaves the sheep in a safe pasture to go find the lost sheep. The Matthew version of this parable is fine, but I think Luke’s version is more complete. Luke provides us with some answers that we might miss from Matthew. You can read Matthew’s version here and Luke’s version here.

I want to go over this parable today and answer some questions about it. Let’s take a look at the characters.

The man – Jesus
The ninety-nine sheep – People who are saved
The lost sheep – People who are not yet saved

I want to state right away that the one hundred sheep don’t represent all of humanity.

We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah 53:6 (NIV)

Although Isaiah is referring to everyone when he talks about sheep here, these sheep and the one hundred sheep are not exactly the same. The sheep here in Isaiah are, indeed, the world. Jesus died for the sins of the world. This doesn’t mean that everyone is going to accept His gift and be saved.

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

John 10:27 (NIV)

We know from this verse that those who are called by Jesus know His voice. He knows them, and they will follow Him.

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.

John 6:44 (NIV)

This verse tells us that everyone isn’t going to be saved. No one can be saved who isn’t called by God to be saved.

Therefore, the ninety-nine sheep represent all of those who are currently being saved. Why count those who have already been called home? The lost sheep then represents all of those who are not yet saved.

The man, in this parable, is Jesus. He’s the one who goes out, finds the lost sheep, and brings it back into the fold. If the only account we had of this parable was in Matthew, we could perceive the characters differently. We could say ninety-nine are those who are saved, and the lost sheep is a brother or sister who has gone astray. However, we have this intelligence from Luke 15:7.

I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

Luke 15:7 (NIV)

If Jesus is the man in this parable, then how does it impact us (we who are saved) today?

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 28:19 (NIV)

Jesus gave us this command in Matthew. We are reminded by Paul, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20 NIV). As ambassadors of Christ, we become the man in the Parable of the Lost Sheep.

Of course, we don’t own anyone, but we do represent the Man who does.

Therefore, what we ought to be doing when Christ returns, is seeking out and bringing the lost back into the fold. You might be wondering, how can people who are lost and unsaved be brought back into the fold?

Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.

Ephesians 1:4 (NLT)

Remember that no one comes to God unless He calls them? Well, we were chosen by Him before he made the world. That’s amazing, isn’t it? I also find it incredibly humbling that, when I was walking around delighting in the sins of this world, I was a son of God. If you are saved, then you too, are His son or daughter. Brother and sisters, it’s time for us to go out and bring back the rest of our family so we can all go home.

Do you know God? God knows you, and He loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, right now, and He wants you to know Him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so we could be free of guilt, be freed from death, and live eternally with Him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away.

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation today:

Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment, and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.