Reading: Luke 15:1-10
Verse 7: “There will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous persons who do not need to repent.”
Several weeks ago I got home from running errands and couldn’t find my cell phone. Instant panic. Now, if I was missing my shopping list – no worries. If I was missing my water bottle, then I’d probably check at ‘lost and found’ next time I was in those stores. But my cell phone?! I mentally retraced my steps and knew I had used my phone at our last stop – Sam’s Club. Our shopping list was on my phone. My wife called and there was a phone with a description that matched mine at the customer service counter. Huge sigh of relief. Yet I had to go right away to retrieve that which I had lost. Any similar experiences?
In our verses today Jesus tells two parables about things that were lost: a sheep and a coin. These stories are told in response to the religious leaders grumbling about the crowd that Jesus is hanging with. To them, the sinners weren’t worth anything. Yes, maybe they could come to the temple – once they cleaned themselves up and were following the Law. But to go out and engage them, to actually search for them while still in their sin, well, no way. To the religious leaders, these sinners were about as valuable as a used shopping list on a piece of scrap paper.
In these 2 parables, Jesus tells of a shepherd who leaves the 99 in an open field to go off and find one lost sheep and of a woman who hyper-cleans her home to find the one coun she’s lost from her pile of 10 that she had just counted. In both cases the lost are found and a celebration commences. Jesus declares, “There will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous persons who do not need to repent.”
It’s awesome that 99 are in church, but what about the 1 who isn’t? Do we search for them at least as much as you or I would search for our lost cell phone?
Prayer: Lord God, I rejoice again and again when you search for me and find me after I’ve wandered. Help me, in turn, to search for those who are lost and need to be found. Guide me to shepherd them home to you. Amen.