“I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.” — Luke 15:7
The most well-known parables of Jesus – the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son – illustrate one of the most amazing truths about God. Here is the truth: God goes looking for sinners, longs for them to repent and come to Him, and when they do He rejoices and throws a party!
The attitude of the Pharisees and the attitude of God toward sinners could not be more different. The Pharisees wanted nothing to do with “dirty sinners.” They didn’t think that Jesus should spend time with them, eat with them, or forgive them. Jesus on the other hand deliberately sought them out, let them know that He came for them, and assured them that a warm welcome awaits those who repent.
Sadly, we often confuse the Pharisees’ response to our sin with God’s response to our sin. We think He is going to hate us, reject us, and despise us. Yet, He is like the tireless shepherd bringing the lost lamb home, the searching woman looking for the prize coin, and the waiting father constantly looking for the prodigal son.
When sinners return to Him with a repentant heart, there is joy in heaven (v.7), rejoicing in the presence of the angels (v.10), and cause for a merry feast because the dead and lost are now alive and found (v.22-24). We can choose, like the elder brother and the Pharisees, to get upset and not join in, or we can realise that God loves and longs to welcome repentant sinners home!
A song I always used to love as a boy expresses God’s heart well,
Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling—
Calling for you and for me;
Patiently Jesus is waiting and watching—
Watching for you and for me!
Why should we tarry when Jesus is pleading—
Pleading for you and for me?
Why should we linger and heed not His mercies—
Mercies for you and for me?
Time is now fleeting, the moments are passing—
Passing from you and from me;
Shadows are gathering, death-beds are coming—
Coming for you and for me!
Oh, for the wonderful love He has promised—
Promised for you and for me!
Though we have sinned, He has mercy and pardon—
Pardon for you and for me!
Come home! come home!
Ye who are weary, come home!
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
Calling, O sinner, come home!