Our scripture this morning is Matthew 18:12-14.

What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying? If it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray. So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish.

Jesus uses this example to teach us how much God wants all His wayward children back in His flock. The parable of the lost sheep is also recorded in Luke 15:3-7, followed by the lost coin and prodigal son lessons. It teaches us about pastoral concern – as the Father cares for us, so we must care for others.

Those who have “gone astray” have left the safety of the path our Father has set for us and are in danger of being lost to sin. Jesus emphasizes that those who are restored to faith are not to be looked down on but celebrated. We must ensure we are not jealous of the attention they receive when “we’ve been here all along”, which is the response of the older brother from the prodigal son parable.

God has gifted us with skills but also with responsibility. We must watch over each other in love, caring for those in need as Jesus did. We are all recovering sinners, no one “better” than another. All of us require the Good Shepherd’s love and forgiveness.

Gracious God, in Your love You sent Your son to save us from ourselves. Help us to be the face of our savior to those in need, sharing the grace and mercy You first gave us. Amen.

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