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July 24, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“So He spoke this parable to them, saying, ‘What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which 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 neighbors, saying to them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!” 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.’”—Luke 15:3–7 (NKJV)
Jesus almost always spoke His parables in response to something. As with the passage above, there’s often a “So” preceding the parables, indicating a prompt of some sort. And, if we’re to understand the true meaning of the parables, we need to know what that “So” is.
In this case, “So” came after the religious rulers criticized Jesus because they believed He was all too comfortable with people who were “sinners.” Now, to a degree, they were right. The people they had in mind were, in fact, guilty of living sin-filled lives far from God. However, their observation triggers a parabolic response in Jesus that reveals God’s heart toward such people: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?”
We can’t afford to miss what’s being conveyed here because it’s one of the most important statements that heaven has ever communicated to earth. God sees sinners (including every single one of us) through the eyes of a compassionate shepherd. When they wander away from Him, He doesn’t cut them lose or count them as a lost cause.
God does the exact opposite. He pursues them because He loves them. Restoration is what He wants more than anything else. And when a sinner repents and turns their heart to Him, it brings Him unparalleled joy (Luke 15:7, 10)! This is such an important truth that Jesus repeats it through another parabolic lens: “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!’ Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:8–10 NKJV).
Again, the point is crystal clear. God does not just dwell on the fact that sinners are lost and distant from Him. He pursues them with all of His heart . . . because nothing brings His heart greater joy than a reconciled relationship with them!
Aren’t you glad that’s God’s heart toward us . . . toward you? Isn’t it cause for thanks that He doesn’t write you (or anyone) off because of their sin? And how wonderfully mysterious is His love for us, that He rejoices as He does when we repent and things are made right between us and Him.
DIG: What prompted Jesus to share these two parables?
DISCOVER: How does your life fit into the frame of these parables?
DO: Set aside time today to express your thankfulness for God’s heart toward you.
Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.