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Home arrow Daniel arrow Luke 15:1-10: Rejoice with Me
Luke 15:1-10: Rejoice with Me Print E-mail
Sunday, 28 July 2013

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Our God is a happy God.  He is not in the heavens this morning worrying or complaining or feeling sorry for Himself.  He is rejoicing.  He is celebrating.  He is happy.  Sometimes I struggle to remember this.  I want to emphasize Godís holiness and righteousness and justice, all attributes worthy of our attention.  Yet, Godís holy wrath against sin does mean that He is a bitter God.  His greatness and transcendence does not mean that He is stodgy and cold.  He is an infinitely joyous God.  His joy, like His other attributes, is greater than we could ever imagine.

So then, what makes God happy?  Are there particular things that cause Him to rejoice?  Absolutely, and the Bible tells us what they are.  In fact, Jesus teaches us in Luke 15 about something that makes God very happy.  It is so important that Jesus gives us three parables about it, two of which we will look at this morning and the third next week.  So then, what is it?  What is it that causes God to rejoice?  Well, before we answer, we need to understand the situation.  Look at verses 1-2.  Jesus has been teaching about the cost of discipleship.  He closed His teaching with one of His familiar sayings: He who has ears to hear, let him hear (14:35). 

Luke 15 begins by identifying some people who wanted to hear Jesus.  Who were they?  Luke tells us: tax collectors and sinners.  As we have noted before, tax collectors were hated among the people because they stole from them and worked for Rome.  They were sinners.  They were bad people.  They were not nice folk who had fallen on some bad times.  They were liars and cheats and greedy.  They were the people that we sometimes try to avoid lest we spoil our good name.  They were sinners.  And they were just like us.  If you are looking for yourself in this story, then they are a good place to start.  But note the love of our Savior: He was receiving them.  They wanted to hear Him teach and He welcomed them, even sharing meals with them.  Of course, the Pharisees could not tolerate this.  You can hear them drawing their conclusions: ĎIf this Jesus is so great, then He sure does keep strange company.  What prophet of God fellowships with sinners?í  In order to respond to their grumbling, Jesus goes on to tell three parables: the parable of the lost sheep, lost coin, and lost son (v. 4-32).  This morning we will be considering the first two and we will begin to see what it is that makes God so happy.  So then, what is the message of these two parables?

God seeks the sinner

The first parable tells the story of a shepherd who has lost a sheep.  What will this shepherd do?  Look at verse 4.  The shepherd is willing to leave the ninety-nine sheep to go and find the one that was lost.  He will keep searching until he finds it.  He will not leave it to die in the wilderness.  The sheep is valuable to him and he prizes it.  It has wandered away, it is lost, but he will not rest until he brings it back.  The second parable tells the story of a woman who has lost a coin.  The coin was probably worth a dayís wages and she had ten, so what will she do if one comes up missing?  Look at verse 8.  She does all that she can to find that lost coin.  First, she lights a lamp.  Homes in those days were dark and she needed light to find the coin.  Second, she sweeps the whole house to look for it.  She looks in every crack and crevice to find her lost coin.  Jesus tells us that she will seek diligently until she finds it.  She will not give up.  She will keep seeking until she finds it.  Have you ever lost something valuable in your home?  What would you do if you misplaced your wedding ring?  How much would you search and search to find it?  You would empty every drawer, pull the cushions out of the couch, retrace your steps, everything you could think of to do to find your ring.  This lady is doing the same thing.  She is searching diligently to find her lost coin.

What does the seeking of the shepherd and the woman teach us about God?  They tell us that God seeks the lost.  Just like the shepherd sought the sheep and the woman sought her coin, so God seeks out sinners.  He is the Divine Pursuer.  Of course, it is not that God cannot figure out where people are, such an interpretation pushes the parable too far.  Rather, the seeking simply reveals that God will do what is necessary to find the lost.  He will send His Son to take on flesh, live a perfect life, and die on a cross in our place, to save us from our sins.  He will not spare His own Son to redeem us (Romans 8:32).  We must remember this when the Devil tempts us with depression and doubt and despair.  God, in His glorious grace, has sought us out.  He has tracked us down.  He has pursued us to death, even death on a cross.  And if we have turned from our sins and trusted in Him, then He has found us.  He sought us until He found us.  O how great is the love that God has for His people!

And if God seeks out the lost, should we not do the same?  Granted, we cannot save them through our life or death, but we can get them the good news which is the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16).  How far are you willing to go to get someone the gospel?  Are you laboring to build relationships with the lost or are you trying to avoid them?  In light of the determined love with which God has pursued us, how much should we be pursuing others?  One commentatorís writes: ďEvangelism requires time and energy, like the shepherdís and womanís search, in order to capture the lost.  Some searches even take years, but our Lord calls us to get out among people and build the relationships that allow us to draw others to God.Ē 1  The implication of this first part of the message is that we should marvel in Godís pursuit of us and join with Him in His pursuit of others.

God rejoices when a sinner repents

So then, what is it that makes God happy according to this passage?  Notice how the shepherd responds when he finds his lost sheep.  Look at verses 5-6.  What a great scene!  When the sheep is found, the shepherd lifts it on his shoulders and rejoices.  He calls his friends and neighbors together and says to them: Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.  How does the woman respond when she finds her lost coin?  Look at verse 9.  She also rejoices greatly to have found what was lost.  She likewise calls her friends and neighbors and tells them to rejoice with her.  They are happy.  They are excited.  They rejoice.

Jesus ends both parables with a statement of how this applies to God.  Look at verse 7.  Jesus gives us a picture of this joyous shepherd rejoicing over finding his lost sheep and calling others to rejoice with him, and then He tells us that this is a picture of Godís rejoicing over sinners when they repent.  Heaven rejoices when a sinner repents.  It makes God happy when tax collectors and sinners repent and believe in Jesus.  Jesus tells us the same thing in verse 10.  Look at that with me.  God rejoices when one sinner repents.  He rejoices.

Now I want you to pause with me and think about that just a moment.  The God of the universe, the One who spoke the world into existence, the One who is righteous and holy and far greater than we could ever comprehend, this God rejoices when sinners repent.  I have often wondered why God allowed sin in the first place.  Why put that tree in the garden?  And even though I do not have a full answer to that question, I think part of it is that He rejoices when sinners turn to Him.  He loves it when we see our sin for what it is.  He is happy when for the first time we see what a waste our rebellion has been and catch our first glimpse of the treasure that He is.  He loves it when slaves of sin become slaves of righteousness, objects of wrath become objects of mercy, lovers of self become lovers of God.  So think about it, I can confidently say that God is rejoicing right now because I believe that somewhere, someone is turning from their sin for the first time.  The gospel is being shared and sinners are coming to faith in Christ.  The world may be caught up with earthly princes being born, but Heaven rejoices in the new birth of sinners through faith in Christ.  And so right now, our God is rejoicing over His people.

If God rejoices over a sinner repenting, then should we not do the same?  When people realize their need for Christ and give their lives to following after Him, then should that not bring us great joy?  The only alternative is to be the Pharisees in this passage, stumbling and grumbling about Jesus eating with sinners and tax collectors.  I donít want to be like that.  I want to learn how to rejoice in repentance.  When my Savior calls and tells me that a lost sheep has been found, then I want to shout for joy and join with His rejoicing.  I want what makes God happy to make me happy. 

The glorious good news that we are celebrating this morning is that Jesus came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10).  He is the Good Shepherd who came to give His life for the sheep.  He lived an absolutely perfect life as a man.  He willingly died upon a Roman cross.  And He was raised from the dead on the third day.  And as we noted last week, He did this with joy (Hebrews 12:2) because He rejoices when sinners repent.  Peter says of Him: He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.  By his wounds you have been healed.  For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls (1 Peter 2:24-25).  This is what our Shepherd has done for us.  He has gone to the greatest lengths to seek and to save us.  If you have never turned from your sins and trusted in Him, then I plead with you to do so today.  Let today be the day that He rejoices over your repentance!

As believers in Christ, we need to pray to have the heart that we see on display in these parables.  We need to seek the lost.  We need to preach the gospel to anybody and everybody that we can.  Any excuse that we might give is not worth much in light of all that God has done to pursue us.  Seek your family.  Seek your friends.  Seek your neighbors and co-workers.  Seek them out with the gospel.  And when they turn from their sins and believe in Jesus, rejoice.  Rejoice with the Lord in their repentance.  Shout and sing for joy when sinners are saved.  Be happy about what makes our great God happy: the salvation of the lost!  Amen.

1 Darrell L. Bock, Luke NIVAC (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing, 1996), p. 409.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 07 August 2013 )

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