“In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!” Luke 15:7
Son of God friend of sinners? Pharisees vs Jesus.
Bible says tax collectors and other notorious sinners came to listen to the teachings of Jesus. There was something special the way Jesus was talking. He talked like the one who had the authority. Jesus was not like the religious leaders of his day. Jesus had love, kindness, compassion, and care for sinners. Jesus welcomed sinners and did not keep them away as Pharisee’s did. Therefore, they murmured against Jesus and said, “Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners”. (Matthew 7:33). Pharisees always looked down on sinners because they erroneously were on the impression they are on a higher level than them. On the contrary, Jesus does not have any difficulties in keeping friendship with the outcasts and sinners. It does not mean Jesus accepted the way they lived, but he was on a rescue mission with compassion and love to save them from their sins so that they too can enjoy the love and blessings of God. On top of that, the Pharisees started a campaign against Jesus Christ saying Jesus is not good based on their standards, because he was associating with such sinful people. Not only associates with them but also eat with them. Detestable and despicable for them.
Pharisees type religious hard bellies are still around us, aren’t they?
Don’t you know the above type of Pharisees is in our midst even in our days today? Religious facades who do not have the heart and mind of Jesus Christ who think they are better than the sinners or other bad people. Because of Pharisees’ criticisms, Jesus told a parable about four items that are lost. A lost sheep, a lost coin, a lost son and a lost brother. These parables in Luke 15:7 are meant to disclose the level of ignorance and spiritual immaturity of those who believed they are “righteous”, “pious” and “most spiritual”. Such pharisee like people base their status on externals-good life, good name, and testimony from people around them, and the law of God. They do not know the true heart of God or the truth of the eternal word of God. You see, Jesus was not after a good name and good testimony from so-called religious people.
The Lost Sheep
We discuss today the first parable -the lost sheep. Jesus said, “If a man has hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep. Listen, then Jesus said, “In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away.”
You see, Jesus never looked down on people who are hated by others. He never looked down on sinners and tax collectors. He always found time to sit with them to talk to them. Remember Jesus went out of his way to reach out to the Samaritan woman who had five husbands in the past and was living with another man. Jesus sought after Zacchaeus, the tax collector, who was hated by people and went to his house. There numerous other examples of Jesus reaching out to people who are lost in their sins and wrongdoings. In fact, the whole purpose of the coming of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, to this world was this. Jesus said this and recorded in Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Again Jesus said, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45).
People are sheep in their core
Why did Jesus give an example of sheep to describe what he is doing for people? Sheep easily gets lost. The shepherd will testify this truth if you ask them. Sheep naturally drift away from the flock, from the shepherd and end up in strange places. They would not know how to get back to the shepherd. The shepherd should take the initiative to go and seek the lost sheep. Otherwise, the strayed sheep would never come back home.
Like the sheep wander off, drift away from the shepherd and flock, people naturally drift away and stray off from the great shepherd, our creator God. Bible says in Isaiah 53:6, “All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the sins of us all. Bible says you are like a sheep strays away. I am a like sheep drifts away. Did you notice it says, “all of us like sheep have strayed away.” God had a path for us to follow. Instead, we follow our own paths. Then it says the LORD laid on Jesus Christ the sins of us all. Did you notice it says, “sins of us all.”?
Sheep drifts away. They wander away from the shepherd and his flock. We do the same thing, don’t we? No one is exempt. All of us goes our own path. You see, when a sheep drifts away by following its instincts, it is prone to get into dangers. It smells and feeds on the grass and slowly and progressively moves away from the shepherd. It crosses over the safe boundaries and walks away. Then later it gets tired and lies down in a place. When it is alone if it rolls back and falls on its back, it can never come out from that condition. It needs the shepherd to make him stand again on its foot. When he rolls over and cannot get back to the normal state, it becomes prey to wild animals. Wild animals can attack and kill him.
Danger looming- the urgency of the rescue
The time is the essence because of the urgent situation and dire need to seek and save the strayed away sheep. Does Jesus say what a good shepherd will do? He would leave the ninety-nine safe sheep there because they are in a safe condition and immediately goes searching for the lost sheep.
Beloved, people drift away from the Lord and nibble after things this world offers. Some try drugs thinking they will get peace and joy there. Then they found themselves in a condition they can not get out of it. Others try alcohol and become addicts and cannot get themselves out of it. People go after different things, and they become addicted or destroyed. Then they realize they cannot get back and return to safety. The suicide rates of celebrities are going up every year. They had fame, money, reputation. The reason is they are also sheep. Sheep strays. nibbles after things that can give them short term happiness and hooks into danger and are unable to save themselves. So is with people. Did this happen to you? We all experienced it in our lives in different fashions.
Bible says Jesus is the good shepherd who searches for the lost people to rescue them. Without the Savior, Jesus Christ, people get ruined and destroyed not only here on the earth. They get lost permanently by going into eternity without God. They end up in eternity where the devil and his demons are. What a horrible place that would be! Jesus knows this truth, and that is why Jesus and His Holy Spirit are on the search for lost people. To Jesus, your soul is more valuable than the whole world put together. That much he values you and loves you. He wants to save you from destruction with that kind of urgency.
We read incidents of kidnapping and how terrible it is to become a victim of abduction. Think God created us and we belonged to the loving God. However, the devil kidnapped us and placed us in his bondage. You can not get out of his dominant bondage. The devil is stronger than you. you need someone stronger than the devil to attack him and get us released from his prison. This is what Jesus does. Devil kidnapped you, and he wants to keep you captured here on this earth and all through the eternity. However, God sent his wonderful rescue mission. The rescuer is Jesus Christ who paid for all your sins and shortcomings. He paid the ransom by his divine and sinless blood. The payment is paid. Now Jesus searches the lost ones consistently and wants to bring them back home. Bible says in Colossians 1:13-14, “or he (God) has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.” God purchased your freedom from the bondage and grants forgiveness by the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. When Jesus searches and finds you, God transfers you from the kingdom of darkness (of the devil) into the kingdom of His Son. What a marvelous change and freedom. The chains of the devil that bound you will fall off from your hand. You become free. Jesus said and it is recorded in John 8:36, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
Beloved, you cannot save yourself. It is not going to work your way. People want their way. Their way is going to lead them to eternal damnation. Only God can save you. Your best intentions or hard and good works can never save you. God saves you in and through the person and work of Jesus Christ. The truth is this -like sheep cannot save itself, you can not save yourself.
Jesus by the help of the Holy Spirit searches and saves you because you are lost by wandering away from God. When Jesus finds you out, it says he does not blame, criticize or beat/punish you, but He lovingly joyfully carries you on his shoulders home. Where do you find such love, care, and compassion? Jesus loves you. He does not want you to get hurt and ruined here on earth and all through eternity. To Him, you are more important and valuable than the whole world. The entire world, the whole universe is all in his hands. However, do you know this truth, He is more concerned and always thinks about your lost condition. He does not want you to get perished. Bible says in John 3:16 this beautiful verse, “For God so loved you that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” If you accept the salvation from Jesus by placing your faith in Him you will never perish, but you will have eternal life in heaven with Him.
Jesus rescued me- He will rescue you also lovingly and joyfully
I praise and worship the Lord because he saved me when I could not save myself. I was going to be ruined and destroyed. However, he came searched me, found me, carried me joyfully on his shoulders and brought me back home where I am enjoying his love and care.
Dearly beloved, you don’t need to stay in the lost state. Bible says in 1 Peter 2:25, “For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” Would you return to the shepherd and overseer of your soul today?
God paid for your rescue mission. 1 Peter 2:24 says, “He (Jesus) himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds, you have been healed.” It is by the wounds of Jesus Christ, you are healed.
Jesus is on the hunt for you. He wants to save you from coming ruin and destruction. Jesus says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come into him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” Revelation 3:20. He was consistently and continuously standing at the door of your life and knocks. He knocked in the past. He still knocks today. Would you hear his loving voice and open the door of your heart now? Says Jesus come into my life. I want you to rescue me, please. He will carry you joyfully on his shoulders, and you would have his life, peace, and care here on earth and all through eternity.
Finally, after saying the parable of lost sheep, Jesus said, “in the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!” When you come from your prison and bondages because Jesus saves you, there is more joy in heaven over you. You see, some people think they are ok, and they do not want to repent of their sins. They think they are better than others. They do not see the need for repentance. However, when you repent, you are not like Pharisees. You truly repent because you want to come home to God. There is merrier and joy in heaven. The angels in heaven always look down and see the incredible rescue work of Jesus and a big party goes on in heaven- joy and merry over you.
Would you pray now? “Father in heaven, I know I am lost. I drifted away. I strayed away. I am gone away from you, Lord. I need your rescue because I can not save my self. I believe Jesus Christ paid for my ransom by his sinless and divine blood. And now you are able and willing to forgive my sins and shortcomings. I believe Jesus died and rose again for my sins. Please forgive me, Lord. I repent of my sins and want to come home to you. Thank you for delivering me now. In the name of Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen.”