Friends And Neighbors, Come And Rejoice With Me!
Life is full of everyday challenges that need to be tackled. Cattle in the field may get out. Getting them back in the field may be eventful, but there is a joy for sharing when none of the cattle are lost or injured when they are returned to the pasture. We expect to do what needs to be done, and we rejoice when we successfully get it done. If a machine stops working, we try to repair it. If something is lost, we search to try and find it. Life happens, and we rejoice when the broken is fixed or replaced and the lost is found.
Having my roots in generations of farmers, I readily relate to the picture of God in the Bible as a good shepherd. Every sheep is important to the shepherd, and each deserves the proper management. If a sheep gets lost, the shepherd needs to search until he finds it. Jesus said it this way: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.” (Luke 15:4-6)
Jesus not only speaks of the joy of finding a lost sheep but also a lost coin and a lost son. In the Lost Coin Parable, Jesus said, “Suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me, I have found my lost coin.’ (Luke 15:8,9)
The Parable of the Lost Son is found in (Luke 15:11-32) I have shortened the story, but it is a significant portion of scripture to read in full. The story, in brief, is: There was a man with two sons. The younger son asked for his portion of the estate even though his father was still alive. When the younger son got his share of the estate, he went to a distant country and squandered his wealth.
Broke and starving, the son realized that he would be better off working for his dad if he went home. He wouldn’t remain there hungry and feeding pigs. When the son was returning, his father saw him coming, and he ran to his son, threw his arms around his son, and kissed him. The returning son said to his father that he had sinned against him and heaven and was not worthy of being called his son. Yet his father welcomed him home as a son, not as a hired hand. He invited his friends and neighbors to rejoice that his son had returned home. For his son, who was lost to him, was found again.
Jesus welcomed sinners encouraging them to repent and enjoy God’s forgiveness. There is rejoicing in the presence of the angels in heaven over the one sinner who repents. God welcomes sinners because sinners become found by trusting in Him.