Matthew 18:12
What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost?
Necessity of Becoming Like Little ChildrenMarcus Dods Matthew 18:1-14
Warning for the ContemptuousJ.A. Macdonald Matthew 18:10-14
A Needful CautionExpository OutlinesMatthew 18:11-13
God's Minute and All-Inclusive Care of the UniverseJ. Parker, D. D.Matthew 18:11-13
Seeking the LostJ. W. Cunningham.Matthew 18:11-13
The Example of Saving the LostNich. Brady.Matthew 18:11-13
The Lost Sheep and the Seeking ShepherdDr. Maclaren.Matthew 18:11-13
The Shepherd Faithfulness of the Son of Man in Seeking the LostT. Christlieb, D. D.Matthew 18:11-13
The Son of Man the Saviour of the LostR. H. Cooper.Matthew 18:11-13
The Lost Sheep and the Good ShepherdW.F. Adeney Matthew 18:12, 13
This parable is here associated with Christ's care for little children (see vers. 10-14). But in St. Luke it is applied to the recovery of publicans and sinners (Luke 15:1, 4-7). There can be no doubt that St. Luke connects it with its most evident and general lesson. Still, there is an a fortiori argument in the use of the parable in St. Matthew. If Christ cares for the most abandoned sinners, much more will he save little children when they begin to wander, especially as this is too often the case just because the negligence or evil example of older people causes them "to stumble."


1. The hundred. We start with the picture of a complete flock. All men belong by nature to God. We begin life with God. If we sin we fall. Sin is losing our first estate, wandering from the fold.

2. The ninety and nine. Many are here represented as faithful. We might think of many worlds of angelic beings in contrast of our own fallen world, or of many members of a Church or family when contrasted with a single defaulter. A parable cannot be pressed in all its details in order to extort from it the exact statistics of a religious census. It is enough that under certain circumstances one is seen to fall away from the fidelity preserved by his companions. Now the ninety and nine are left. Absolutely Christ does not leave his true sheep. But a special care is needed to find the lost one. There is a common selfishness in religious people who would enjoy the luxuries of devotion in such a way as to hinder the work of saving the lost. Churches are filled with worshippers, who in some eases hold their pews as private possessions, so that the wayfaring man and the stranger feel that they are not welcome. Yet if the gospel is for any one, it is for them.

3. The lost sheep. There is but one. Yet it is a great trouble that one should go astray.

(1) This shows the value of an individual soul.

(2) It reveals the awful evil of sin. The lapse of but one man into so fearful a fall is enough to disarrange the whole order of the community.


1. His departure. He leaves the flock; but they are safe; for they are in the fold. Moreover, the sight of his departure to save the lost is a warning to those left at home of the evil of straying.

2. His journey. He must travel far in a waste and difficult country. Sin leads its votaries into hungry solitudes and among fearful dangers. Christ follows the wandering soul. His advent to this world was his following, and his hard life and death his journeying over wild mountains, he follows each one now. He will not leave the lost to their fate.

3. His success. He finds the lost sheep. He is a good Shepherd - energetic, persevering, self-sacrificing. Therefore he succeeds. Christ brings back souls who have wandered into the lowest abysses of sin.

4. His joy. This is proportionate

(1) to his love for the lost sheep;

(2) to its distress, danger, evil condition;

(3) to the toil and difficulty involved in finding it. The joy of Christ is the joy of saving the lost. - W.F.A.

If a man have an hundred sheep.
1. The image under which it pleases God to describe His creatures upon earth, "Sheep" "gone astray."

2. What is said as to the dealings of God with His creatures under these circumstances, "seeketh," etc.

3. The feelings with which the Shepherd is described as regarding the sheep when found, "He rejoiceth more," etc.

4. The general deduction which our gracious Saviour draws from these several particulars "Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish."(1) What a conception does this text lead us to form of the character of God our Redeemer.(2) What an encouragement does the doctrine of the text supply as to our dealings with others.

(J. W. Cunningham.)

I. WHO ARE THEY that are here described as persons lost, and what is meant by the expression? Our blessed Saviour means all who did not receive Him as the messenger and interpreter of the Divine will to mankind.

II. IN WHAT SENSE OUR BLESSED SAVIOUR IS HERE SAID TO HAVE COME TO SAVE MANKIND.(1) He came to instruct mankind in the true and the whole nature of the Divine will:(2) to show, in His own example, that human nature is capable of such a degree of perfection, as will make us fit objects of the Divine favour:(3) to make a satisfaction for us upon the cross, such as showed that God would not pardon the sins of men unless His justice was satisfied; and, therefore, Christ's suffering and death upon this account were a full and proper satisfaction made to the Divine justice for the sins of such as were till then lost to the benefits of eternal life.

III. How FAR SHOULD THE EXAMPLE OF CHRIST, IN THIS PARTICULAR OF SAVING THAT WHICH WAS LOST, BE IMITATED BY US. The natural means, those of instruction and of example, which He made use of in His life-time for reforming mankind, and improving their morals, these are what we may copy after Him.

(Nich. Brady.)

Expository Outlines.
I. A NEEDFUL CAUTION. "Take heed that ye despise not," etc.

1. To despise them is fearfully dangerous.

2. The interest taken in them by the highest intelligences should prevent us from thinking lightly of them.

3. The high destiny which awaits them.

II. A BLESSED ANNOUNCEMENT. "For the Son of Man is come," etc.

1. The title assumed.

2. The act declared, not merely to improve, but to save.

3. The miserable objects regarded.

III. A FAMILIAR COMPARISON. "HOW think ye" (ver. 12). These words may be considered:

1. In their literal signification. The recovery of lost property is a principle of human nature.

2. In their spiritual allusion.

IV. AS ENCOURAGING INFERENCE. "Even so it is not the will of My Father," etc.

1. The harmony that existed between the mission of Christ and the purposes of the Eternal Father.

2. If it is not the, will of God that the most despised and insignificant believer should perish, their salvation is assured.

(Expository Outlines.)


1. One feature of the mediatorial character is particularly displayed in the very name in which the Saviour is introduced to our attention, "the Son of Man."

2. These words point out the fact of the Saviour's incarnation, "The Son of Man is come."

3. This description of the object of His coming we may contrast with another, when He comes a second time into this our world.


1. He represents the state of the guilty sinner whom He came into the world to save under the idea of a wandering sheep. Prone to wander.

2. The care and kindness of the Great Shepherd of the sheep. Manifests particular care over case of individual sinner.

3. Christ's search for the lost embraces all the means used for the salvation of sinners.

4. He carries back the sheep when He has found it. To prevent exposure to danger.

5. His joy.


1. The connection that is here obviously formed between the end in view, and the means for the accomplishment of that end.

2. In redemption the will of the Father and Son are equal.

3. The work of Christ was designed to accomplish that intention, and is efficacious to its accomplishment.

4. Magnify the fulness of Christ's work.

5. Have you learnt that your characters are that of lost sheep?

(R. H. Cooper.)

I. He is the Shepherd of the flock.

II. His love is impartially shown to all who are in the fold.

III. The salvation of the least is worth all the efforts of the highest.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

I. Let us notice THE CONSOLATION in His comparing them with sheep who have gone astray.

1. It reveals to us how dear every single soul is to the Lord.

2. He misses each sheep as soon as it is lost.

3. He will leave the ninety and nine on the mountains and hunt for only one that has gone astray.

4. He rejoices over the one that is found.


1. That we keep watch over those who are liable to go astray.

2. The shepherd-faithfulness of our Lord renders you responsible for compassion on the lost.

3. Also for active, zealous seeking and leading home all who are willing to be saved.

4. It requires us to rejoice over every one who lets himself be saved.

(T. Christlieb, D. D.)


1. All men are Christ's sheep. All men are Christ's because He has created them. "We are His people and the sheep of His pasture."

2. The picture of the sheep as wandering, "which goeth astray." It pictures the process of wandering; not the result as accomplished. The sheep has gone astray, though when it set out on its journey it never thought of straying; more mischief is wrought from want of thought than by an evil will.

3. The progressive character of our wanderings from God. A man never gets to the end of the distance that separates between him and the Father if his face is turned away from God. Every moment the separation is increasing.

4. The contrast between the description given of the wandering sheep in our text and in St. Luke. Here it is represented as wandering, there it is represented as lost. God wants to possess us through our love; if He does not we are lost to Him.

II. THE PICTURE OF THE SEEKER. The incarnation of Christ was for the seeking of man.

(Dr. Maclaren.)

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