15 The tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law were whispering among themselves. They said, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” 3 Then Jesus told them a story. 4 He said, “Suppose one of you has 100 sheep and loses one of them. Won’t he leave the 99 in the open country? Won’t he go and look for the one lost sheep until he finds it? 5 When he finds it, he will joyfully put it on his shoulders 6 and go home. Then he will call his friends and neighbors together. He will say, ‘Be joyful with me. I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you, it will be the same in heaven. There will be great joy when one sinner turns away from sin. Yes, there will be more joy than for 99 godly people who do not need to turn away from their sins. 8 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and sweep the house? Won’t she search carefully until she finds the coin? 9 And when she finds it, she will call her friends and neighbors together. She will say, ‘Be joyful with me. I have found my lost coin.’ 10 I tell you, it is the same in heaven. There is joy in heaven over one sinner who turns away from sin.”
These are two of a group of stories about someone who has lost something: a sheep, a coin and (tomorrow) a son. In each case, the owner cares enough about what has been lost to go looking for it and to keep on looking until it is found. Whatever is lost isn’t where it should be, so the shepherd or the woman goes looking in all the places it shouldn’t be.
It’s true these people shouldn’t be where Jesus is looking, but he keeps looking where they are until they are found.
The other part of each story is the reaction of the owner’s friends when it is found. They rejoice. And heaven rejoices when a lost person comes back. Because they care for the owner, they care for what the owner cares for.
These Pharisees and teachers (like the brother in the story of the lost son) are certainly not rejoicing.
I think we all have an innate sense of justice. We like it when the baddy comes undone at the end of the movie. We don’t like it when bad people win. Much as I know they are out of step with God, there’s probably a bit inside us all that might think the same way as them. If I got to Heaven and found Hitler or Stalin there after a death bed repentance, how would I respond?
I have to remind myself that I’m one of the “bad people” that Jesus came looking for. And it’s in no way just that Jesus had to give his life for me. But I’m so grateful for His wonderful, generous love for me. I need to make His heart my heart. (Ezek 32:36)
That person at work who hurt me… I need to pray for them to be found … and maybe I have a part to play in it. That person who cut in front of me in the queue … a blessing on you.
Father, give me your heart for all your children who are lost.
Written by David Cornell