God still ‘REJOICES’ over a SINNER who REPENTS: "I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance…Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents…It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found." (Luke 15:7, 10, 32)
Jesus told three parables in Luke 15 to correct the Pharisees’ misconception about God, and in answer to their question as to why He welcomed sinners and ate with them. Through these parables, Jesus shared His Father’s heart in rejoicing when any sinner repents and turns to Him.
The literary art and message of these three parables are beautifully intertwined. The ratio of ninety-nine sheep to one, nine coins to one, and one son to one focuses in each case on the one recovered. Rejoicing occurs in each case. In the first story those who rejoice are all in heaven. In the second, rejoicing is found in the company of the angels. In the third, the father is the leader of the party, celebrating the return of his wayward son. The lost sheep was located in the wilderness; the woman’s coin was lost inside the house; and the younger son was lost outside the house.
The key point of these three parables is the joy of God when the lost is recovered. God’s joy is to forgive and restore. In each story something is lost in increasing value: a sheep, a coin and a son. In each case, the lost object is found and produces rejoicing. The sheep is innocently lost, the coin carelessly lost, but the son willfully lost. The percentage of loss grows in each case from one out of a hundred, to one out of ten, to one out of two.
The three parables is a moving portrayal of a loving God’s persistence in seeking out the lost, and of human perversity in resenting such grace, which exceeds our natural understanding. Each parable records the anguish of loosing, the effort of searching and the joy of finding! The ‘sinner’ who humbles himself and confesses his lost condition brings joy to the heart of God.
Jesus wants us never to forget God’s concern for the ‘lost’ sinner who has no relation with Him. He loves sinners and actively seeks them; His joy is great when they turn to Him. God views every sinner with compassion as a lost but loved son. He longs for each one to return to Him. Let us be God’s messengers in seeking the ‘lost’ and lead them to restore their relationship with God. God truly ‘rejoices’ over a sinner who repents!
"The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing." (Zephaniah 3:17)