Read: Luke 15v4–10
“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he 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.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she 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.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Meditate: There was only one thing about the lost sheep that drove the shepherd to go looking for it. And that was simply the fact that it was lost. Nothing more, nothing less. The point is that every single sheep is important to the shepherd, and when any of them gets into trouble he is especially concerned for them. The same with the coin. God is looking for his lost sheep, and when he finds them the angels sing for joy!
But there is a sting in the tail of these stories, in case anyone should think that the whole point is simply Jesus’ desire to include anybody and everybody. “There is joy”, he says, “among the angels in heaven when a sinner repents.”
Just as the Prodigal Son doesn’t stroll home with a crooked smile, confident that his soft-hearted father will take him back in, so the people with whom Jesus is celebrating were showing they wanted their lives to change.
Jesus welcomed sinners; but by the time he’d finished with them, they weren’t sinners any more.
Pray: Lord, help us to celebrate your welcoming love, and be transformed by it.
Engage: Have a conversation with or do something thoughtful for a neighbor or classmate.