107 The 90 and 9

107, Jesus said: The kingdom is like a shepherd who had hundred sheep. One of them, the biggest, went astray. He left the ninety-nine and sought after the one till he found it. When he had laboured, he said to the sheep: I love thee more than the ninety-nine.

This one seems like a copy of Matthew 18:12 “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?”, except for the last line.

It might suggest once more that love is an activity more than a feeling. Not much activity required for those in the fold, but ‘going into the mountains’? Sounds like real work; call it love.

Love “Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things” (1st Corinthians 13:7). Love isn’t about feeling.

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4 responses

  1. Larry,I found these two reflections into this scripture interesting in their perspectives:”Assurance. Jesus is assuring pupils in his esoteric school that all are equal. Not even the one who went so sadly astray, not even if that one is the largest/best, will that straying one be deemed to be less than the others. It is NOT about superiority. It is instead a counter to inferiority, emphasized by the techniques available to authors of poetic and drammatic effect. All are equal.”- Thief37″For me, the 99 sheep are people who have accepted and never questioned their inherited religion. The lost sheep is trying to rediscover spiritual truth for him or herself, from direct experience and the mystical way. This doubter or agnostic is actually greater in spirit than the unquestioning believers.”- Arizona***For me, love is both feeling and action, but perhaps more feeling. In this regard, it is hardly quantifiable. So I am reminded of a scale here that is not our universal scale of percentages or time, but rather that vertical axis of purity, right to the center of the heart. So to say I love thee more that the 99 says that rather than love being parceled out and divided among each, love is singularly yours; each of you is loved completely.

  2. The last line saying that Jesus loved the lost sheep more than the others, and its absence in the other gospel, seems significant to me. To love one more than another goes along with the gnostic idea of an “elect”. I’d rather not think Jesus rates others according to how much he loves them, but maybe this is more like the prodigal son parable, where much is made over the one who had gone missing but was later found, though the father loved both sons the same.

  3. Crystal, I also saw the prodigal son in that last line. I still am having a bit of difficulty with it. I like Larry’s explanation that love is an activity, not a feeling, but like Meredith, to me it is both. I’m a creature more of passions, so I see love as a feeling. There can also be discipline in ‘loving your neighbor’ which may mean treating him well rather than simply the feeling. Of course, the two are inseparable.

  4. To take a step back — from the details of this love Jesus has for the various sheep to Jesus’s/God’s love in general — I generally don’t know what to do with the idea of God loving us. Recently a Friend in meeting voiced my own feelings, saying he doesn’t really experience God as something that loves him, just as something whose will he is to do. On the one hand I want to trust my own experience, and that of many Friends past (as love isn’t prominent in Quaker theology as I understand it). I also have doubts as to whether G-d is personal in the first place (which makes the concept of God’s love hard to understand). But on the other hand I feel like love is such a huge part of the mainstream Christian tradition, this passage being one example, that I feel I/we may be missing out on something.

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