Matthew shifts to sharing with us some of the parables of Jesus as he heads to Jerusalem. The first one is the story of a man who owned 100 sheep but one wandered off. The owner left the 99 with caretakers and went in search of the lost sheep. Jesus shares about the joy and rejoicing that results from finding the lost.
“14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish. (Matthew 18:14)”
Lent is a time when we do not focus on praise and all our blessings, but we focus on our “losses.” A loss might be a relationship we have allowed to go by the wayside that we need to rekindle. A loss might be realizing we have not written a friend we want to encourage, a relative or neighbor we want to visit, or a habit we have let slide. It might be a lost opportunity that comes to mind.
As we seek to recover those things we have allowed to wander and slip away from us, the result is joy. Spending a couple of minutes in prayer before bedtime is relaxing. Singing a song while driving rather than listening to the news all the time is healthy. Hugging someone who is important to us is always rewarding. Smiles given to someone who looks down and a word of affirmation can mean a lot.
Jesus is going to the cross because God cares about his lost sheep. He cares about us enough to search for us and carry us home. He is not willing or wanting for us to wander in the wilderness, vulnerable and scared. God does not want us to perish. The cross is about a God who does not just sit in heaven counting his assets and erasing his losses on April 15. He actively seeks regain his creation. Thank you, Lord.