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.”
Have you ever considered how valuable you are to God? In these stories Jesus communicates the idea that each of us is worth finding. In the first parable we see the lengths that the shepherd goes to find the sheep that has strayed away from the flock. And in the second a party is thrown over a lost coin that was found. You and I are that sheep and that coin. Like the tax collectors and sinners, Jesus spends time with us and draw us to himself.
I think that we do not really understand the heart of God when it comes to this idea of a sinner repenting. I think that we can often be a bit Pharisaical about people who are far away from God. I think that it is so easy to forget that these are "our" lost brothers and sisters. And like those religious leaders we too can grumble at God not understanding that it is his heart to be with "sinners". Would that we too would throw a party when they turn to God for help.
Lord, I confess that I am a Pharisee. Cause my heart to break for those who are lost and rejoice when you find them.