Luke 15:6-7 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.' Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
I do not know what part of your daily devotions this might be, whether you do it in the evening, or in the morning or your do it otherwise, but an important part of our Christian life, is that we examine ourselves according to the 10 commandments, including those things we ought not do, as well as those things which we ought to do – so that we can say whether we have done them or not. It is not fun to so examine yourself, for it shows your sin. It is necessary to do it, because, if we do not see our sin, how can we be lead to repentance? It we do not see our sins and repent, how can we ask forgiveness, and if we do not receive forgiveness, how can we have peace with God?
We know that such an examination is necessary, before coming to the Lord’s Supper, for it we do not so examine ourselves, we might take the Holy Supper to our damnation. But more than that, if we do not examine ourselves, we do not know what sins need the blood of Jesus given and shed for us, to wash away. And we do not remember long what parts of our lives we desire to change, so that they may be more in conformity with God’s will. But most of all, is that desire to be cleansed and at peace with God, through the forgiveness of sins in the blood of Jesus given for us.
So, from such regular and hopefully daily examination, it is no surprise if we keep seeing that we are sinners – and if, by chance, that we cannot see anything that we are guilty of, then the last thing to consider, is if perhaps, the sin at the center of our lives might be pride. In order to hear the gospel in our gospel lesson it is necessary that we each see and know our sin – for our lesson offers great hope to sinners.
That hope is this, no matter how lost, no matter how far we have strayed, it is not left up to us to find our way back to God – rather God comes to us, God finds the lost. God brings the lost back into his presence, and into his pastures. This is not the same as saying that everyone will be saved, for you can still resist God’s saving hand. But the good news is that being saved does not depend on your ability to become unlost or find your own way out of sin. God brings to us the way of salvation..
Now that is good news, no doubt about it. But some may be feeling ashamed that they were lost in the first place, and may continue to carry such guilt and shame. But the forgiveness of God is not like that. And to point this out, Jesus points out over and over again, in the 3 parables of Luke 15, that when God finds the lost, the chief thing that happens next, is that God calls together his friends, that they might rejoice with him, that the lost has been found.
If, having examined ourselves, each individually, we find that we are sinners, we find that we have a common purpose then in gathering together, and that is to rejoice together, that the lost have been found. That is, that we who were lost in sins, have again been guided back to God, and have again been forgiven our sins. God, who has called us his sons and daughters, has called us together to rejoice with him, that the lost have been found. And so we rejoice in the good shepherd to finds the lost and wandering sheep. We rejoice in the woman who searches diligently for the lost coin. We rejoice in the father who receives back the prodigal son, rejoicing that there can be life, even from the dead.
That is in part, the reason why we gather together on Sundays, to rejoice with God in the forgiveness of sins which is ours in Christ, and to give thanks to God for his grace and mercy. We sing songs of thanks and praise and often feast on the bread of life, given for us and for all. And we encourage one another with our stories, of God at work in our lives, finding us, when we were lost, carrying us, when we could go no further, forgiving us, when we could not forgive ourselves, and giving us each and every day all the things we need to sustain this body and life.
There is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. Thanks be to God!