In today’s Gospel, Jesus spoke of the shepherd who leaves his 99 sheep to search for the one lost sheep.

If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray?

I’ve heard a number of different homilies on this Scripture.  This morning, Father said it was human nature to search out the lost.  He acted like it was perfectly natural to leave 99 sheep to search out one.

But the verse has always struck me in the opposite way.  It seems almost comical that Jesus says to the disciples, “will he not go in search of the stray?”  I always thought the disciples would be kind of laughing to themselves when He said it– “suuurre, Jesus.  I’d leave almost a hundred sheep to go look for one disobedient one.  Riiight.”  And then they stop laughing and realize He’s serious. 

So, in the words of Jesus, what’s your opinion?  Was Christ using the common practice of shepherds to illustrate His point?  Or the absurdity of something so against common practice?  The input of any Middle Eastern shepherds would be especially appreciated.