Luke 15:1-10 on Sunday night at our gathering. Usually, when we talk about this parable the emphasis is on the fact that the shepherd left 99 behind to find one. And that is an important part of the story. But in the context of the other parables it almost seems incidental to the main point -- the punch-line of the story.
Jesus is talking about how big the party will be when something lost is found. The parables of the lost sheep, lost coin, and lost son all seem to be zingers aimed at some religious stooges who were having trouble entering into the joy of the lost being found. IOW, the coming of the kingdom of God, which involves restoring the lost, isn't a burden to bear or a procedure to follow -- but a celebration into which we enter.
Why do we miss this point? It's easy to get so caught up in running the affairs of the flock -- and making sure that everything is done exactly according to proper procedure -- that, well, we get distracted when things don't go according to our plans. When that happens we lose focus as to what is important and that zaps the joy. But the good news is simple. Jesus is about helping the lost become found. And when that happens we rejoice (even if they end up in the wrong denomination or of the wrong theological persuasion).