What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish. (Matthew 18:12-14)



The most likely result of going off in pursuit of one lost sheep will only be ninety-nine more lost sheep. Accordingly, I think it best to assume that Jesus is parabolically thumping the tub for the saving paradox of lostness. He implies, it seems to me, that even if all one hundred sheep should get lost, it will not be a problem for this bizarrely Good Shepherd because he is first and foremost in the business of finding the lost, not of making a messianic buck off the unstrayed. Give him a world with a hundred out of every hundred souls lost – give him, in other words, the worldful of losers that is the only real world we have – and it will do just fine: lostness is exactly his cup of tea. Capon