In today’s culture, there are groups of people who cry out for the lost ones to be heard.  And other groups scream, “What about the 99?”  The one is who needs Jesus at the moment.

A shepherd with his flock of sheep.
Jesus is the Good Shepherd.
Photo by kailash kumar from Pexels

So Jesus told them this story: “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it?  And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders.  When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’  In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!

Luke 15:3-7 (NLT)

The 99 Safe Sheep

Luke 15 is referring to salvation, but it can also refer to love and care as well and how we’re supposed to treat other people.  It is an analogy of a shepherd leaving those who already have salvation, love, and care behind and going searching for the lost one.  Jesus is not saying the shepherd is abandoning the 99.  The shepherd is trusting the 99 to take care of themselves for a while so he can look for the one that is lost.

The 99 represents people who have salvation.  They are the ones who have found Christ and stick by Him.  Jesus is the Good Shepherd, after all.  They can trust that Jesus cares about them, even when He goes to search for the lost one.

The 99 need love, care, and attention too, but they already have it on mass.  Jesus knows they will be fine together when He seeks the one that drifted away.  When one is lost, or being mistreated, that one needs Jesus more than the 99 do at that moment. The 99 should be concerned for the lost one, just as Jesus is.

A single sheep back lit by the setting sun.
The one lost sheep.
Photo from Pexels

The One Who’s Lost

The one lost sheep is the one who wandered away from the group or got turned around.  They represent the people who are lost, alone, and in need of love and attention.  The lost one does not mean that the rest of the 99 doesn’t matter at all, but the lost one is who needs Jesus right now.  They need someone to seek them, find them, and lift them on their shoulders and help them get back to safety.  

The lost one matters!  The lost one doesn’t matter more than the 99, but the one matters now.  The one matters at the moment.  The one lost its way or wandered off and is now missing or in danger.  The Good Shepherd needs to leave the safe and secure 99 to look for, find, and rescue the one.  When He finds the lost one, He brings them back to the fold where they too can be safe and secure with the rest.

Jesus cares for the lost one to the point where He is willing to go after them and bring them back.  The lost one can represent a minority group who feels unjustified or abused, a soul looking for meaning in their life, or a person who hit rock bottom.  The lost one can be you or me.  The one is anyone who is reaching out for help and is lost and in need of a Savior.  Jesus cares for the one, and so should the rest of the 99.

A shepherd on a donkey leading a flock of sheep.
Stay with the 99 or go after the one?
Photo by Süleyman Şahan from Pexels

Are You the 99 or the One?

At different times of our lives we are sometimes the 99 and sometimes the one.  We all lose our way every now and then.  We all feel disparaged, hurt, and broken at times in our lives.  And there are times when we feel safe, secure, and warm. How would you want people to treat you when you’re the lost one?  That is how you should treat people when you’re part of the 99.

If you’re currently in a place in your life where you are the lost one, know that the Good Shepherd is looking for you, seeking you out, and wants to lift you onto His shoulders and bring you to safety.  He wants to protect you and keep you secure. He is coming for you because you matter, and at the moment, you are who He seeks.

If you are currently a place in your life where you are the 99, know that the Good Shepherd is looking for the one.  He needs to find them; He needs to rescue them, even if they are unaware that there’s anything wrong.  And demanding that you’re more important in those moments is selfish.  You matter, but at the moment, you don’t need His hand; someone else does.


Jesus cares for all of us.  But sometimes others need Him more than we do, and at those times, we should step back and let Jesus care for them.  And we should rejoice when the Good Shepherd finds them and brings them to safety because the one is just as important as the 99.

What are your thoughts of the 99 and the one?  Let us know in the comments below.