Luke 15:1-10 (ESV)
Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
“Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
One of the mistakes people make when they read the Bible is that they skip over troubling passages. When they encounter a passage they don’t like, or don’t agree with, or don’t understand, they avert their eyes. They move on quickly to another passage and forget about the one they don’t want to face. In doing this, they miss some of the best lessons.
This is one of those passages. The problem here is that a normal shepherd would never leave the ninety-nine in the open country to look for a lost sheep. He would have someone else look after his flock while he went looking for the missing one. More to the point, a normal woman who found a lost coin wouldn’t call together her friends and neighbors to celebrate.
Jesus said, “What woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors?” If the audience was game, lots of hands would have gone up.
This is important. In a sense, these parables don’t work. They’re over the top.
But that’s the point. Jesus said, “Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Heaven will be different. The “normal” worries and reticence that keep life from being like these parables will be gone.
Our joy will be complete.
Are we as joyful as we should be? Yesterday’s lesson was about counting the cost. Yes, being a Christian is costly. We give up many of the pleasures of this world. Some risk their lives.
But that doesn’t mean being a Christian isn’t joyful. The pleasures are different – and better.
Ask the Lord to show you His joy.
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