“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way, your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish” (Matthew 18:12-14 NIV).
Misunderstood, the above Scripture could make Jesus very unreasonable. How can a good shepherd leave the ninety-nine sheep at the mercy of the wolves while looking for just one, lost in mountains? Logically, this appears unreasonable. But Jesus is revealing something more profound than such simplicities.
To comprehend, one needs to appreciate the background under which Jesus uttered those words. Jesus was focusing on spiritual matters, not identified by location. Having been granted the Holy Spirit, the person attains safety. Hence, parables are not meant to be understood by everyone.
Jesus used this, intending to stress a point on humility, as the only component required, to attain salvation. A similar utterance was when admonishing those despising the converts with appalling sins. Their point of argument was that Jesus should not be merciful to those having been embroiled in sinfulness Luke 15:1-7.