One Lost Sheep
Question: Why did the good shepherd, in Jesus' parable, look for one lost sheep and leave ALONE ninety-nine others that were in his flock?
Answer: You have asked some interesting questions about the 'lost sheep' parable (also referred to as the 'good shepherd') in Matthew 18. First, however, we need to define what a parable is. A parable is not intended to portray a real life situation but is a simple story told to make a point. Although also found in Luke 15, let us take a brief look at what Christ said in Matthew's version.
Jesus opens his parable by asking what should a good shepherd do if one of the animals in his flock is lost (Matthew 18:12). He answers his own question by stating the keeper of the flock would leave the 99 sheep that he has and pursue the one that strayed. When the sheep is found the shepherd is said to be happier at finding it than the fact that the rest of the flock was not lost (verse 13).
The main characters of this story are used only as an analogy that tie human emotions and logic to the emotions and logic of God to help us better understand how He thinks.
The parable does not present a real life situation. In the real world, one would want to know the details of how ninety-nine animals were to be protected while the shepherd was gone. Adding such detail to the story, however, would serve no tangible purpose. Even in today's world, the herdsman would call a friend or family member to watch over the flock if he expected to be gone for an extended period. Or perhaps the shepherd knows the area where the sheep are grazing to be safe for the few hours he would be gone. If the herd would be in danger, he probably would not leave all of them to search for just one. These mundane details, however, do nothing to teach the lesson intended and as such are not included in the parable.