Read Luke 15:3-32
Have you ever lost something really important to you? Maybe it’s your wallet, phone, or even a relationship. I lose things all the time- especially my keys. Did you know that the average American spends around two and a half days per year looking for lost items? We care a lot about the items we spend time trying to find, and Jesus shows infinitely more love and care towards finding and helping people who are lost. He illustrates this through three parables.
The first parable is about a lost sheep. When a shepherd loses one of his sheep, he leaves the ninety-nine others to search for it (v. 4). When he finally finds his lost sheep, he rejoices and throws a party to celebrate its return (v. 5-6). This seems silly, right? He has ninety-nine others, why does just one sheep matter? The shepherd knew the lost sheep was in danger, so he went out to find it. Jesus explains, “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent” (v. 7). We’re like the lost sheep in the story. God never stops pursuing us and, when we do return to him, he celebrates!
Jesus uses a lost coin in his next parable. When a woman loses one of her ten silver coins, she searches carefully until she finds it. When she succeeds, she invites her friends over for a celebration (v. 8-9). Again, Jesus says, “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (v. 10).
In Jesus’ next parable, he tells of a son who leaves his father with his inheritance and then throws it all away by seeking fun and pleasure (v. 12-13). When hard times hit and the son’s money runs out, he doesn’t know what to do except return to his father and beg for a job as a servant. But when he reaches his father’s house, instead of the unforgiveness and malice he expected to receive, his father told the servants, “Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate” (v. 22-23). That’s exactly how God responds when we come back to him. He celebrates when we come back home, no matter what we did when we were away.
Have you noticed the connection between these three parables? Jesus searches tirelessly for the lost. When they are found, he rejoices and forgives. How comforting is that? No matter what our past looks like, we can always return home to God. He loves us so much and will never stop pursuing us. Where will you go next time you feel unworthy of his love? He will always welcome you back home.