A Lost Sheep, A Lost Coin, and A Party in Heaven
September 11 - Nº 254 Luke 15:1-10
One of the things that upset the Pharisees and teachers of the Law most about Jesus was the company he kept. They were convinced that the true Messiah would never hang around with tax collectors and sinners. These people were considered to be religious and social outcasts. Their jobs and lifestyles made them “unclean” and alienated them from God—according to their rules. “But this man welcomes such people,” the religious leaders muttered about Jesus. “He even eats with them!” One day, Jesus realized that they were whispering to each other about this. So, he responded by telling a parable. “Suppose one of you owned 100 sheep and suddenly realized that one was missing. Wouldn’t you leave the other 99 out in the open field and go after the one that was lost?” he asked. “Wouldn’t you keep looking until you found it? And when you did, wouldn’t you be filled with so much joy that you would put it on your shoulders and carry it home? Then, when you got home, you would call your friends and neighbors together and celebrate saying, ‘Come rejoice with me, because I have found my sheep!’” Everyone who was listening understood that Jesus was referring to himself as the shepherd. The 99 sheep, who were all huddled together thinking they were safe, represented the Pharisees and teachers of the Law. The one lost sheep stood for the tax gatherers and sinners who were so important to the shepherd that he went out of his way to rescue them. Before any of the religious leaders could respond, Jesus added, “I am telling you that in this same way there is more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous people who do not recognize that they need to repent.” To make sure they grasped the point he was making, Jesus told another parable. This time it was about a woman who suddenly realized that she was missing one of the ten coins she had been saving for her wedding day. “Wouldn’t she light an oil lamp and carefully sweep the entire house until she found it?” he asked. “When she did, she would be so relieved she would call her neighbors together and say, ‘Come rejoice with me—I lost one of my coins, but now I have found it!’ That’s how it is in heaven. The angels of God rejoice every time a sinner repents!” By now the religious leaders were probably quite upset. They had been teaching for years that God rejoiced whenever a sinner perished from the earth. But Jesus was saying the opposite. He was teaching that there is joy in heaven when a sinner is rescued! He was saying that God doesn’t look at how sinful someone is. He looks at how lost they are. He doesn’t want to abandon or condemn them. He wants to rescue them and bring them home.
Notice in these parables Jesus talks about three kinds of joy: personal joy when the shepherd finds his one lost sheep; collective joy as the neighbors celebrates with the shepherd; and heavenly joy as the angels celebrate every person who repents and is brought home! What brings you joy? Are you intentionally looking for lost sheep that you can bring to Jesus? This is one thing that is guaranteed to bring great joy!