“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.”
“Let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.” Luke 15:1-10,23b-24
The Pharisees pride-stained view of those outside their circle stood in sharp contrast to the Lord Jesus’s view of them. Lost because of their sin-status vs. loved in their sin-status. Marked forever by poor decisions and condemnation vs. identified forever as God’s image-bearers and children. Hated and rejected vs. loved and pursued. In the flesh man sees so differently from God, and therefore cannot accept and rejoice in His merciful ways. (Isaiah 55:8-9; Jeremiah 31:3; John 1:12; Romans 5:18-21; Ephesians 1:5; 2:1-5)
To understand that God loved us so much He went to the ends of the earth to find us and procure us as His own should undo us. To realize that Jesus, equal with God, humbled Himself to death on a cross out of love for our souls, should humble us to grateful praise. We were strangers, aliens, enemies, lost, dead… yet He pursued, found, and saved us. This cannot help but fill us with unstoppable joy! (Isaiah 43:1-7; John 3:16-17; Ephesians 2:12-13,19; Philippians 2:5-8)
Have we hidden ourselves in shame or guilt? What regret, fear, or pressure to perform keeps us from being truly found and loved by Jesus? When will I abandon myself to the Lover of my Soul, and rejoice in His rejoicing over me? (Zephaniah 3:14-20)
“What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss
to bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul,
to bear the dreadful curse for my soul!
To God and to the Lamb I will sing, I will sing;
to God and to the Lamb I will sing;
to God and to the Lamb, who is the great I AM,
while millions join the theme, I will sing, I will sing…
and through eternity I’ll sing on.” ~Alexander Means (1801-1883)
Lord, may I glorify You by delighting in Your love and joy toward me.