The Ninety and Nine
The headlines are taken from an old familiar Scripture found in Matthew 18:12. You may notice even as valuable as the lost sheep is, our subject in this script is 'The 90 and 9'. Most all writers and ministers place the emphasis upon 'the lost sheep' and usually nothing more than the figure is mentioned of the 90 and 9. 'How think ye? If a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray (Matthew 18:12-13).' I believe most Christians or perhaps ministers fail to bring out to the 100 sheep the mystery of the 90 and 9 left unnoticed and unrecognized while the backslider or the sinner is being searched for and when he is found, the attention and the rejoicing and the honor is bestowed upon the rescued. In this, sometimes, the 90 and 9 feel slighted, feel unnoticed and even sometimes become upset because more attention is given to the one wounded so the flesh is bound in the 90 and 9 to have a tendency to say he cares more for the ma who has done wrong than for us, the 90 and 9.
If one would notice this Scripture very closely, I think the 90 and 9 would be more lenient of their shepherd, to seek and to save the lost and would not feel so bad when they are neglected in their sacrifice of him rescuing the lost. Paul gives a good example when he explains the body in the 12th chapter of I Corinthians verses 22-23, 'Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.' This Scripture speaks for itself without any explanation pointing out the principle of the 90 and 9 and the one that is in desperate need of help in the time of trouble and discouragement. The attention is turned upon him that is in need.
In spite of those who have great love to reach the lost, there are great tendencies to feel slighted, to feel bad and sometimes become jealous, because the spotlight is not turned on them, when rather, they should be as willing to turn their special care and assistance, likewise, as the true shepherd. Let us use another example of the principle of Jesus of the ninety and nine when Jesus was at meat with the Publicans. He quoted to the Pharisees when they were criticizing Him; they were not pleased with His unusual attitude of breaking the law of the love of the flesh. Let us quote His words in Matthew 9:11-12, 'And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them. They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.' Now when the 90 and 9 get into the attitude of mumbling and grumbling over a shepherd leaving them to bestow his presence and love upon the lost, then Christians have gotten into the attitude of the Pharisees. They have been overtaken by a spirit that is not a true Christian attitude.
Another outstanding example is the Prodigal Son who had gone astray. A true example is clearly seen in this incident of the sometimes reaction of some of the 90 and 9, when their shepherd has gone to meet a returning sheep. It is found in the story of the Prodigal Son which is found in the 13th chapter of Luke. The true vision of the work of the shepherd and his flock to reach forth after the lost and those that are going astray. The 90 and 9 should be a mighty force in backing and supporting the program of the shepherd. If it is detected that even one of the 90 and 9 is becoming disturbed, someone that is spiritual among the 90 and 9 should immediately become his shepherd to restore such a one. It is never good for another to agree with one's weakness. The true Bible way of spiritual men and women is to make themselves a weapon of force rather than being the field of consuming the shepherd's labor that is required in saving the lost.
I have used these Scriptures with the story of the 90 and 9 and the lost sheep, for it has seemed in many occasions the reaction of the very principle even though much of it is displayed in our day. We see that even in the days of Christ and the Early Church, that the field of the shepherd got to be the 90 and 9 rather than the field of the lost. I hope everyone will understand what I am trying to point out in this subject, that we, the 90 and 9, be united in one great force to find the lost and those not lost in sin, but that are lost in knowing where the true Church of God is. The true love of a real Christian is to put forth special efforts to them that are not with us, but are looking for us. Let us bestow our labors upon others and then love one another, for this is the spirit of a true Christian. For is a man has the whole world 'in the flesh' and loses his soul, what has it profited him? Let us not be weary in well-doing.
Article Written By: The Late Grady R. Kent, St. John II, Chief Bishop of The Church of God, 1957-1964. Taken From: The Vision Speaks, Volume 4 Number 9, Dated: February 1962.[i]
All grammatical and typographical errors have been corrected except for direct quotations from the Author. Thought content of said article has not been changed.