There’s Celebrating In Heaven Over One Sinner Who Repents
On a treadmill, we exercise by walking or running on a machine. We cover a distance while staying in one place. Sin is like being on a treadmill that starts us walking or running at a low and manageable level. Sin is exhilarating enough to get us stuck going around and around in what keeps us from getting off the treadmill. Sin gets us dizzy, exhausted, and out of breath, but it won’t slow down and let us get off the machine. Sin makes us reckless and unable to stop what we are doing. We need God to help us use the stop button on our sinful workout routines.
The Christian life is admitting we need God because sin comes naturally to us, and we do not know our sinfulness except by God’s word, which shows what sin is in our lives. Like sheep, we get lost and hurt without the protection of a shepherd. Shepherds take care of their flock of sheep. Each sheep in a flock needs to be accounted for to know if one is lost. Shepherds led their flock to a sheep pen or fold for the night. There they could be protected from the attack of natural animal predators and human thieves. They could sleep and rest safely with their shepherd keeping watch over them.
The Pharisees and the law teachers criticized Jesus for welcoming tax collectors and sinners who gathered to him to hear him speak. They also carped about Jesus eating with sinners. So, Jesus told his critics to consider how there is great joy and rejoicing when what is lost is found, notably a sinner who repents.
Jesus asked his critics to think about being a shepherd who finds a lost sheep and returns it to his flock. It’s a great reason for the shepherd to be pleased and eager to share his joy with his friends and neighbors. The shepherd had 99 sheep safe out of his flock of 100, and he did not need to rejoice about their safety. However, he needed to rejoice that the one lost sheep was found and brought again to the flock’s safety. Likewise, Jesus states that heaven has great joy over a sinner who repents more than the 99 who do not need to repent.
Jesus also tells his detractors that if a woman has ten silver coins and loses one, she will set to work to find the lost coin. She searches carefully, and when she finds the lost coin, she is relieved and thrilled. The woman will call her friends and neighbors to rejoice with her because she has found her lost coin. She isn’t joyous about her nine coins that aren’t lost but about the lost one being found.
Jesus said, “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:10). The Pharisees and teachers of the law could not understand that Jesus did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. God loves sinners. He and heaven rejoice when a sinner repents. He is mighty to rescue the lost and quiet them with his loving safety. (Zephaniah 3:17)