The urgency of one

by Michael E. Brooks

“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost’” (Luke 15:4-6Luke 15:4-6
English: World English Bible - WEB

4 “Which of you men, if you had one hundred sheep, and lost one of them, wouldn’t leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one that was lost, until he found it? 5 When he has found it, he carries it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 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!’

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This week in Bangladesh there was yet another accident of a far too familiar kind. An overloaded passenger launch was hit by a large cargo ship, capsizing and sinking the launch. Of the estimated 250 to 300 passengers, 142 are confirmed dead and about a dozen are still not accounted for.

Such tragedies make headlines and get world-wide attention. We often measure their importance by the number of deaths or injuries which occur, or the huge amount of dollars a disaster may cost. The bigger the numbers are, the bigger the story, and the more attention it receives.

That is understandable and perfectly natural. Large numbers of victims means a greater amount of suffering and a greater need for help. The world’s compassion is greatly welcomed.

That observation, however, makes Jesus’ parable of the lost sheep even more pertinent. From God’s perspective, every victim is a major story, evoking great compassion.

“I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7Luke 15:7
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7 I tell you that even so there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance.

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We do not have to be in a massive catastrophe to be noticed and cared about. God sees and goes after just one lost sheep.

In many ways the Christian message may be described as the story of God’s love for just one. He knows when one sparrow falls to the ground (Matthew 10:29Matthew 10:29
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29 “Aren’t two sparrows sold for an assarion An assarion is a small coin worth one tenth of a drachma or a sixteenth of a denarius .? Not one of them falls on the ground apart from your Father’s will,

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He is not willing that any (even one) should perish (2 Peter 3:92 Peter 3:9
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9 The Lord is not slow concerning his promise, as some count slowness; but is patient with us, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

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19 1 He entered and was passing through Jericho. 2 There was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. 3 He was trying to see who Jesus was, and couldn’t because of the crowd, because he was short. 4 He ran on ahead, and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was to pass that way. 5 When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and saw him, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” 6 He hurried, came down, and received him joyfully. 7 When they saw it, they all murmured, saying, “He has gone in to lodge with a man who is a sinner.” 8 Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, half of my goods I give to the poor. If I have wrongfully exacted anything of anyone, I restore four times as much.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Today, salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost.”

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Each of us is a headline in the eyes of our heavenly Father. He knows all that we do. He understands our every need. He cares when we hurt and when we stray from his path. No one weeps on earth without his sympathy (John 11:35John 11:35
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35 Jesus wept.

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This Biblical truth also emphasizes the urgency of evangelism and the need for Christians to seek diligently to bring God’s message of salvation to those who need it. James states it emphatically:

“He who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:20James 5:20
English: World English Bible - WEB

20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death, and will cover a multitude of sins.

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And he will also cause great joy in heaven.

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