“As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.” Ezekiel 34:12
Men may deny the claim of His love, they may wander from Him, they may choose another master; yet they are God’s, and He longs to recover His own… In the parable the shepherd goes out to search for one sheep,–the very least that can be numbered. So if there had been but one lost soul, Christ would have died for that one. The sheep that has strayed from the fold is the most helpless of all creatures. It must be sought for by the Shepherd, for it can not find its way back. So with the soul that has wondered away from God; he is as helpless as the lost sheep, and unless divine love had come to his rescue, he would never find his way to God.
The shepherd who discovers that one of his sheep is missing, does not look carelessly upon the flock that is safely housed and say, “I have ninety and nine, and it will cost me too much trouble to go in search of the straying one. Let him come back, and I will open the door of the sheepfold and let him in.” No, no sooner does the sheep go astray than the shepherd is filled with grief and anxiety. He counts and recounts the flock… He leaves the ninety and nine within the fold, and goes in search of the straying sheep… At last his effort is rewarded; the lost is found… The parable does not speak of failure, but of success, and joy in the recovery. Here is the divine guarantee that not even one of the straying sheep of God’s fold is overlooked, not one is left unsecured. Every one that will submit to be ransomed, Christ will rescue from the pit of corruption, and from the briers of sin.—Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 187, 188
E. G. White, With God At Dawn, p. 36
The parable of the straying sheep should be treasured as a motto in every household. The divine Shepherd leaves the ninety and nine, and goes out into the wilderness to seek the one that is lost. There are thickets, quagmires, and dangerous crevices in the rocks, and the shepherd knows that if the sheep is in any of these places, a friendly hand must help it out. As he hears its bleating afar off, he encounters any and every difficulty that he may save his sheep that is lost. When he discovers the lost one, he does not greet it with reproaches. He is only glad that he has found it alive. With firm yet gentle hands he parts the briers, or takes it from the mire; tenderly he lifts it on his shoulders, and bears it back to the fold. The pure, sinless Redeemer bears the sinful, the unclean.
The Shepherd carries the befouled sheep, yet so precious is his burden that he rejoices, singing, “I have found my sheep which was lost.” Let every one of you consider that your individual self has thus been borne upon Christ’s shoulders. Let none entertain a masterly spirit, a self-righteous, criticizing spirit; for not one sheep would ever have entered the fold if the Shepherd had not undertaken the painful search in the desert. The fact that one sheep was lost was enough to awaken the sympathy of the Shepherd, and start him on his quest.
This speck of a world was the scene of the incarnation and suffering of the Son of God. Christ did not go to worlds unfallen, but he came to this world, all seared and marred with the curse. The outlook was not favorable, but most discouraging. Yet “he shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgement in the earth.” We must bear in mind the great joy manifested by the Shepherd at the recovery of the lost. He calls upon his neighbors, “Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.” And all heaven echoes the note of joy. The Father himself joys over the rescued one with singing. What a holy ecstasy of joy is expressed in this parable! That joy it is your privilege to share.
E. G. White, Review and Herald, January 19, 1911