Although Jesus had much to say of the kingdom of God, and in that must have meant, if not a visible social structure, at least the relations of men to one another, he was deeply and primarily interested in individuals and saw society, customs, and institutions only as they affected individuals. To him the Jewish respect for the Sabbath must not be permitted to stand in the way of helping individuals, whether that entailed healing them or relieving their hunger. He declared that he had "come to seek and to save that which was lost," and by that he meant individuals.
Some of the best remembered parables of Jesus centre about care for the individual. He compared his concern for "the lost" with the shepherd's leaving the ninety-nine in his flock who were safe in the fold and going into the wilderness to look for the one stray until he found it and with the woman sweeping her house meticulously in search of a missing coin and then, when she had discovered it, calling in her neighbours and friends to rejoice with her. He told of the father waiting for his wayward son and running to greet him when he saw him far oft, returning. He commanded his disciples not to despise even one of "these little ones." He declared that God noted the fate of every sparrow, so that not one of them could fall to the ground without His will, and that since human beings are of more value than many sparrows, God must surely care for them. Again and again, although he talked collectively to multitudes and although on two memorable occasions he took care that they were fed, Jesus addressed himself to individuals and gave them of his best — the woman of the street, the short-statured tax-gatherer who had climbed a tree to see him, the Roman officer with a sick servant, the child who seemed to be lying dead and her distraught parents, many an unfortunate demoniac, the rich young ruler who came running to him and whom he loved at first glance. Almost all of his recorded healings, and there were many of them, were of individuals. Only once, in the case of a group of lepers, do we read of his healing as many as ten at a time, and what stands out in that incident was the gratitude of the one, a Samaritan, who returned to give him thanks.
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