The sixth saying:
The kingdom is like a shepherd who had one hundred sheep.
One of them went astray which was the largest.
He left behind the ninety-nine, he sought for the one until he found it.
Having tired himself out, he said to the sheep: I love thee more than the ninety-nine.
One of the most puzzling problems has been: what will happen to the sinners, those who have gone astray? What is the relationship between the divine and the sinner? Is the sinner going to be punished? Is there going to be a hell? – because all the priests have been insisting that the sinner is going to be thrown into hell, he is to be punished. But can God punish anybody? Is there not compassion enough? And if God cannot forgive, then who will be able to forgive?
Many answers have been given, but Jesus’ answer is the most beautiful. Before we enter into this saying many other things have to be understood; they will give you the background.
Whenever we punish a person, whatsoever rationalizations we may like to make, our reasons are different; and remember the distinction between reason and rationalization. You may be a father or a mother, and your child has done something of which you don’t approve. It doesn’t matter whether he has done something right or wrong, because who knows what is right and what is wrong? But you disapprove and whatsoever you disapprove of becomes wrong; it may be, it may not be, that is not the point: whatsoever you approve of is right. So it depends on your approval and disapproval.
And when a child goes astray, is doing something wrong in your view, you punish him. The deep reason is that he has disobeyed, not that he has done something wrong; the deep reason is that your ego feels hurt. The child has been in conflict with you, he has asserted himself. He has said no to you, the father, the authority, the powerful one, so you punish the child. The reason is that your ego is hurt and punishment is a sort of revenge.
But the rationalization is different: you say it is because he has done wrong and he has to be put right. Unless he is punished how is he going to be put right? So he should be punished when he moves in a wrong direction, and he should be rewarded when he follows you. That’s how he is to be conditioned for a right life. This is the rationalization, this is how you talk about it in your mind, but this is not the basic unconscious reason.
The unconscious reason is totally different: it is to put the child in his place, to remind him that you are the boss and he is not the boss, that you will decide what is wrong and what is right, that it is you who are going to give him direction; that he is not free, that you possess him, that you are the owner and if he disobeys then he will suffer.