Have you ever lost something and couldn’t find it? You search your entire house and even start looking in the same places again because you know it has to be there somewhere, but you just can’t find it.
What do you do when you find it? You are overjoyed – in fact you may be ecstatic! I’ve found it! And you have to tell someone (isn’t it the nature of good news that it has to be shared with others?).
Jesus told two stories in Luke 15 about people who had lost something and a third about a man who lost his son. Let’s have a look at the first two of these stories.
I can remember staying on my grandparents’ farms as a teenager and going with my grandfathers each morning to count the cows to make sure they were all there. Why did we do that? Because my grandfather was concerned for the welfare of his cattle. If one was missing, something might have happened to it – perhaps they had injured themselves or had become caught up in a fence or something else.
This is the situation we find in the first of Jesus’ stories. A shepherd discovered one of his sheep was missing. He left the ninety-nine to go and find the one that was lost. And he searched until he found it.
After bringing it back home he called his friends and neighbours together to share in his joy of finding the sheep that was lost. He wanted them to rejoice with him.
The second story is similar – a woman had lost a coin. The Greek text identifies the coin as a drachma, worth the same as a denarius, or a day’s wage for a labourer. With the minimum wages that are in place today as an equivalent, we understand why she searched everywhere to find this coin. It wasn’t like losing a penny today, or even a larger coin, but this was the equivalent of losing a days’ wage.
When she found it, she called together her friends and neighbours to rejoice with her: she had found the lost coin.
Although there is joy when we find something that we lost, there is an even greater joy. This is when a person makes the decision to change their life, to turn their lives around, and begins to follow God by becoming a Christian. Jesus expressed this joy in this way:
“I tell you, in the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need to repent … In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:7,10 NET)
The reason Jesus told the three stories in Luke 15 was that ‘sinners’ – tax collectors and worse – were coming to hear him. They were interested in his message of forgiveness and he was spending time with them. The Jewish leaders looked on this with disdain – why would he be spending his time with this type of person (and not them)? They complained: “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them” (Luke 15:2).
Jesus’ point was that when a sinner changes his life there is rejoicing in heaven. Notice that this is not only among the angels, but it is “in the presence of God’s angels”. And who is in the presence of God’s angels? The Father himself! God rejoices when someone changes to follow him.
We need to have the same joy when someone who is lost changes his life and begins to follow Jesus. When someone puts on Jesus by being immersed in water, this is a time of great rejoicing!
If God the Father is rejoicing along with those in heaven, how would it be possible for us to not join in with them?
Readings for next week:
18 March – Luke 10
19 March – Luke 11
20 March – Luke 12
21 March – Luke 13
22 March – Luke 14