Once a shepherd owned 100 sheep. He took good care of his sheep. Every day he led them to green, grassy fields where they could find plenty to eat. Every day he took them to clear, cool water where they could get enough to drink. Every day he chased away wild animals that might hurt his sheep. And every night he led them to a safe place. Before he went to bed, the shepherd counted his sheep to make sure they were all there. The shepherd loved his sheep, and the sheep felt safe in the shepherd’s care.
But one night when the shepherd counted his sheep, a look of worry came over his face. Something wasn’t right. He counted again, just to be sure, and then again. Something was definitely wrong. One of his sheep was missing.
The shepherd didn’t stop to think about how hungry he was. He didn’t worry about his sore feet. He didn’t say, “I’ll go look for that lost sheep tomorrow, when it’s not so dark, and when I’m not tired.” He didn’t say, “I still have 99 sheep here. I don’t really need the one that’s missing.” Not at all. The shepherd loved every one of his sheep, so he stopped everything he was doing to look for the sheep that was lost.
Looking for a lost sheep at night isn’t easy. The shepherd bumped into rocks. He scratched himself on prickly bushes. But far away he could hear the sound of a frightened sheep crying. The poor sheep knew it was lost. It knew it wouldn’t be safe until it was back with the shepherd.
The shepherd followed the bleating sound. He could tell he was getting closer and closer. And then, by the light of the moon, he could see his sheep caught in a thorny bush. Gently the shepherd pulled apart the bush. He didn’t care about the prickles that poked and scratched his hands. He just wanted to set his sheep free so he could take it safely home. And then, once it was free, the shepherd gently put the sheep over his shoulders and carried it home.
The sheep was heavy, but the shepherd didn’t mind. He was happy he had found his sheep. And the sheep was happy too. It knew it was safe again now that the shepherd had found it.
Jesus is our shepherd and we are His sheep. He will take care of us just as the shepherd took care of his sheep. He loves every one of us and wants us to be with Him.