I am thinking about the story of the Good Shepherd this morning. As Jesus told it, the shepherd left ninety-nine unattended to go find the one that was missing. Pondering the ninety-nine that stayed behind, I wonder, were they ready to be left? Would they stay in the pasture where the shepherd had left them? I suppose if they were connected to the flock, had a sense of belonging, they would stay. Or a good rule-follower might stay put for the sake of the rules. But maybe there were some who hung around the edges and when the shepherd was not there to grab them with his crook, they would wander off, too.
This was the price the shepherd had to pay when he went off after the one. He might return and find three other missing. And if he went off to find these, the one he had just rescued might go off again. So saving sheep has nothing to do with sheep. It is all about the work of a good and faithful shepherd.