November 5, 2019

The One Who Left the 99

Matthew 18:1–14

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Who Is the Greatest?

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,1 it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

Temptations to Sin

“Woe to the world for temptations to sin!2 For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes! And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell3 of fire.

The Parable of the Lost Sheep

10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.4 12 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? 13 And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. 14 So it is not the will of my5 Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.


[1] 18:6 Greek causes . . . to stumble; also verses 8, 9
[2] 18:7 Greek stumbling blocks
[3] 18:9 Greek Gehenna
[4] 18:10 Some manuscripts add verse 11: For the Son of Man came to save the lost
[5] 18:14 Some manuscripts your

The One Who Left the 99

Key Verse | Matthew 18:12-13

"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."

Bio | Lindsey Monsivais

Hello! I wrote this devotional as Lindsey Juarez. Now I have a new last name after marrying my amazing husband Juan Manuel Monsivais this summer. During the wedding ceremony, our officiant told our guests that Juan and I weren't always the God-fearing people we are today. We used to be lost sheep wandering in the wilderness, straying from God's will, looking for life where it cannot be found. Because God pursued the two of us individually, we have found shelter in the loving arms of the Good Shepherd. I'm so thankful God found us before Juan and I found each other.

Central Truth

"All we like sheep have gone astray" (Isaiah 53:6a), and yet Jesus chases after those who have wandered from the flock—not because we deserve to be found, but because He loves us.

Devotional | Matthew 18:1–14

As a child, I had a fascination with wandering. Once, as a toddler, I decided to open the front door of our house and walk down the street. Thankfully, the neighbors stopped me before I traveled too far.


As a child, I had a fascination with wandering. Once, as a toddler, I decided to open the front door of our house and walk down the street. Thankfully, the neighbors stopped me before I traveled too far.

What compelled me to wander is anyone's guess, but I'm not alone in the desire to stray. Society is enticed with the idea of not being tied down. It's evident in songs, movies, and even Scripture.

The world tries to seduce us into leaving God to find life. It happened to me as an adult. I fell away from the church, fell in love with a guy, and fell into the trap of believing he could fulfill me. After a broken engagement, I was in a pit of depression and anger. I wondered whether God still loved me.

Jesus answers that question through the parable of a sheep that strayed from the flock. A lone sheep is vulnerable to predators seeking the weak and helpless. Knowing this, the shepherd leaves the 99 faithful sheep to find the one that wandered off.

The shepherd in this parable is Jesus, and the sheep are His followers. When a believer is lured by the cares of the world and wanders from God, Jesus begins the chase. His pursuit is relentless until the believer is returned home.

So it was with me. God pursued me and led me to a church that reminded me of truth—that God sacrificed everything to save me. "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." (John 10:11) Jesus laid down his life so I wouldn't have to pay the penalty for my wandering heart. This says nothing of my deserving to be loved and everything of the goodness of God's love.

This truth should make anyone want to be found by God. If you have a childlike fascination with wandering and have walked out the front door of your faith, ask yourself: Are you going to keep running, or are you willing to let Jesus put you on His shoulders and take you home?

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Discussion Questions

1. After reading the Parable of the Lost Sheep, do you think the sheep deserved to be found? What do you think of the shepherd who searched for the lost sheep?

2. Read Isaiah 53:5-6. As a believer, what do these verses mean to you? If you do not have a relationship with Jesus, what do these verses mean to you?

3. If you are where I was a few years ago and feel you have wandered from God, is there anything keeping you from wanting to be found? What is it?

4. Do you believe that God is chasing after you even if you are actively running away? Why or why not?

5. What is your reaction to knowing that Jesus died for the sins you have committed? As it says in Romans 6:23, this is a free gift that God has already paid for. He did it because He loves you. Do you want to accept His gift?

8 Comments available

Jay Caruso 7 months ago

Thank you for part of your story Lindsey! #4 I do believe that God is chasing me and trying to find me daily and with me knowing that it makes it so easy for me to stay beside him and be faithful being good and faithful servant. every time I get convicted and I need to ask for forgiveness and I know he forgives me and I just want to continue to make sure I don’t repeat those sins after I’ve been forgiven even though I have here in there during my life but not so much since I’ve had a new life in Christ. And seek him daily

Sam Denmark 7 months ago

Reading into Constable’s notes, the presented, ‘child’ here is not necessarily a child, but a disciple who has humbled himself or herself to be childlike in their faith. We are called to welcome others into our faith as if they were Jesus Himself standing before us. A humbling thought as I recall coworker and stranger interactions over the past week.

Relates really well to Todd’s message from this past Sunday and the approach Watermark is taking on the 17th to spread the good news. We are to be disciples every day!

Michael Scaman 7 months ago

On the subject of lost sheep, that’s the ending of the longest Psalm/longest chapter in the Bible (Psalm 119:176)

“I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant, for I do not forget your commandments.”

Almost every verse is Psalm 119 is a relentless reception of God’s word AND almost every verse in Psalm 119 is a relentless prayer of dependency on God to help us keep his word. The ending is a call on God’s word to come to the Psalmist’s help and for God to seek him like a shepherd seeks a lost sheep.

Michael Scaman 7 months ago

Some apostles were picked to go up the mountain with Jesus

Some apostles stayed behind

Bad feelings erupt into a question: who’s the greatest (in the kingdom of heaven) and a teachable moment. The glories of being with Moses and Elijah and a voice from heaven now replaced with a desperately sick/life threatened child. A teachable moment.

Greg Jones 7 months ago

Great questions this morning.

Q4-Matthew18:10 makes me think Isaiah6:1-5.

Matthew18:11 makes me think Isaiah7:24-25.

Matthew18:12-14 connecting the dots-Where the briars and thistles have grown is where Jesus has gone to be the gatherer of sheep, not the hunter of sheep.

Hunters tend to drive prey deeper into cover so woe to the hunters-don’t despise one of these little ones.

The hunter and shepherd both “become like one of these,” in the briar and thistle, but unlike “one of these” in their intentions. One comes to hunt sheep away from pastures(or purpose), the other comes to lead towards pastures(or purpose).

Sue Bohlin 7 months ago

Thank you, Lindsey! Your focus on the shepherd going after the one lost sheep reminds me of what a brilliant friend, known for misplacing things in his office, said the other day: “There is no joy greater than discovering something thought irretrievably lost.”

I was struck by v. 7, “For it is necessary that temptations come . . .” What? Temptations are necessary? What’s up with that?

Apparently, there is something valuable about learning to depend on the Lord to fight temptations, literally “stumbling blocks,” for developing spiritual maturity and strength. Which makes sense, since the Lord Jesus wants a mature, strong kingdom Bride, and there’s no way to grow us like engaging in spiritual warfare.

Hope Harris 7 months ago

Good Morning friends, I still trying to find a rhythm with a job responsibilities and odd work schedules. I have been reading and reflecting on Proverbs during my time away. I hope to see things even out in the next few weeks

This morning I am pondering verses 5-11 this morning. My main question is what it means to deal with temptation in the context of community?

How do we walk beside each other and find the balance of personal responsibility and not causing or sisters and brothers to stumble?

I certain confess plays a role in that. Yet I believe there may be a role that our community plays to sit each other up for success.

More questions than answers today

Hugh Stephenson 7 months ago

The very low status and regard of children in this culture makes this teaching even more notable.

I love the image of the young child in a car seat happily journeying wherever the parents take them. It is not even in their mind that they would be “the driver”.

A link to Philippians 2:1-18 and two great bits from Wiersbe -

It has well been said, “True humility is not thinking meanly of oneself; it is simply not thinking of oneself at all.” The humble person lives for Jesus first and others next–he puts himself last.

I love the saying that one should note the difference between being humble and being humbled. 61 years of mistakes has taught me to keep my heart oriented to the former condition.

Father, may I have the heart of humble submission to surrender fully to you.

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