October 3, 2022

The Infinite Value of One

If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying?

Daniel Bruneau

A recent article on the BBC website1 recounts the story of a man who was the only audience member to attend the show of a stand-up comedian in the packed schedule of events during the 2022 Edinburgh (Scotland) Fringe Festival—the world’s largest annual arts festival. 

Even though the comedian had only one person in his audience, he decided to continue with his comedy act because he wanted to honor the audience member who had paid for his ticket. After the show the comedian remarked: “It was honestly one of the best shows I have ever done.” The audience member responded in kind: “I cannot remember ever laughing that much.” 

However, the story gets even better. Unbeknownst to the comedian, a reporter who arrived early to review the next act, after genuinely enjoying the show, tweeted with high praise about the event, causing the comedian’s following show to be a near sellout. 

The value of one! 

Scripture is infused with this value. When you have a moment, read through the succession of the parables of the lost coin, the lost sheep, and the lost son found in Luke 15, and at the end, ask yourself the same thematic question for each parable: How many of the 10 coins were lost? How many of the sheep were lost? How many of the sons were lost? Invariably, the answer to every question is one. In every single parable, the thrust of God’s desire, His deepest concern, was about the one! 

It’s a sobering thought when we think about it. Ellen White makes a profound and deeply arresting statement on this very thought: “If but one soul would have accepted the gospel of His grace, Christ would, to save that one, have chosen His life of toil and humiliation and His death of shame.”2 

Let that statement sink in for a moment. Christ would have endured and risked everything on the cross if you were the only person to choose Him in all the billions of people that have ever existed and will ever exist on Planet Earth before He returns. Can you comprehend that? In the most personal sense, we are of infinite value to God. 

No wonder Ellen White remarks: “The soul is of infinite value. Its worth can be estimated only by the price paid to ransom it. Calvary! Calvary! Calvary! will explain the true value of the soul.”3 

The infinite beauty of this unselfish love on Calvary becomes even more poignant when we realize that when Christ chose to suffer and die for our salvation, He was valuing us above Himself. 

Jesus says it best: “For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish” (Matt. 18:12-14). 

1 https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-leicestershire-62489950 

2 Ellen G. White, The Ministry of Healing (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1905), p. 135. (Italics supplied.) 

3 Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church ( Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1948), vol. 3, p. 187.