Hello everyone. 🙂 Today I will be sharing a beautiful parable that Jesus told. Jesus shared this parable in response to a complaint made by corrupt religious leaders. These religious leaders were disturbed because Jesus was accepting of people that they scorned. They said “…This man recieveth sinners and eateth with them.”(Luke 15:2 (KJV))
In response to this comment, Jesus shared a beautiful parable which shows us how He relates to those who are far from Him.
I recommend that you read this story yourselves before reading my summary of and takeaways from it.
Jesus helped His audience to see that naturally, if any man had 100 sheep and one of them ran away, he would leave his 99 sheep and go and look for the one that was lost. When a man would find his sheep, he would put it on his shoulders and carry it home rejoicing. Then, he would call his friends and neighbors together and invite them to rejoice with him that his lost sheep had been found.
Jesus then said that heaven rejoices more over a lost person that has come back to God, then over 99 good people who do not need any repentance. Jesus was trying to bring conviction to the hearts of the religious leaders by saying this.
The corrupt religious leaders “thought” that they were in a good place with God, but they really were not. If you are in a good place with God, you will surrender your feelings of scorn and hatred towards other people, and you will allow Him to transform your heart. The corrupt religious leaders were not allowing God to do this for them, and they resisted everything that Jesus tried to do for them. Therefore, heaven could not rejoice over them.
I have to search my heart too. How do I react when someone who everyone knows has been doing wrong comes back to God? Do I rejoice and encourage the person, or do I express my doubts about how genuine the person’s repentance is and/or about how I suspect that he or she will not stay faithful to God for long?
I want to love like God loves. I want to be encouraging and embracing of everyone who chooses to repent and accept a new life in Christ. I choose not to throw people’s pasts in their faces. Jesus does not do this.
The truth is too that there are those of us who have not been sinning in such a way that everyone knows about it, but who may have secret sins that separate us from God; Or, we may have been people who tried to be very righteous, but who did not have the love of God in our hearts. If we are in either place, heaven will rejoice over us too if we repent and accept Jesus into our hearts. Some lost sheep may be church elders, pastors, youth leaders etc. Not all lost sheep are drug addicts, prostitutes and thieves. Jesus wants to rejoice over you, whoever you are, whatever you have done, no matter what other people think about you etc. In order for Him to be able to rejoice over you, you must simply repent of your sins and come to Him.
When people who had lived dirty lives, so dirty that other people looked down on them, came to Jesus with an attitude of repentance, He loved them and lifted them up. He is the same Jesus today. If you are living a dirty life, if you have left God altogether after knowing Him very well, if you have lost all respect for yourself and you feel worthless, please know that Jesus wants you back. In fact, He is looking for you right now. You will never know anyone who has a track record of being as loyal as Jesus. You may have left Him, but He has never left you. If you have never known Him before, please come to Him. He is looking for you right now. He is not going to come to you with a mean, unforgiving attitude. Oh no! He is coming to you with tenderness, pity, forgiveness and love. He hates the sins that are destroying you and He wants to save you from them, so please come to Him…just as you are. Remember how Jesus treated the woman who was caught in adultery. He dealt with her accusers, told her that He had not condemned her and told her not to sin anymore. Jesus loves those whom others do not love, and He is in the business of saving everybody.
If you are a government leader, a lawyer, a doctor, a professor, a pastor, a youth leader, or some other person in a prominent and respectable role, but you know that your heart is not clean, and you may even know that secretly (or openly) your life is not clean either, please come to Jesus. Please do not allow pride to keep you from receiving the blessings of His deliverance and salvation! Maybe you have not used your position and influence well, and maybe you have hurt many people. Even so, please come to Jesus! He will not cast you out! Please remember how Jesus treated Saul of Tarsus, an extremely religious man who persecuted Christians. Jesus looked for him and came to him on the road to Damascus. Saul repented of his sins. Jesus forgave him and changed him into Paul the apostle. Paul is remembered, not as a cruel religious extremist, but as a loving, fatherly, godly apostle of Christ.
Jesus is looking for all of us. Let us not resist Him. Let us repent and come to Him so that heaven can rejoice over us.
“If you don’t know how to pray, that is okay. Here is a sample prayer that you can use, but it is okay and right for you to talk to Jesus as you would respectfully talk to a close friend.
I want to know You. I know that I am a sinner and I ask Your forgiveness for my sins. Please give me a new heart and help me to be like You.
Please help me to know You.
In Jesus Name Amen” (words in the preceding quotations are copied and pasted from this blog-post)
After you have repented, you have the privilege of embracing your new (or renewed) identity in Christ:
“God says that He loves you (Jeremiah 31:3). He says that He wants to save you and that He can save you (John 3:16). He says that He has created you for His glory (Isaiah 43:7). He says that even when you have messed up, He still wants to sanctify Himself before those who have seen your messes, by living out His holy life through you. This will happens as He changes your heart (Ezekiel 36: 23-27). God says that there will be people from every people group in heaven (Revelation 5:9-10). I welcome you to hold your head high in humble humility. You have the privilege of believing what God says about you… and ultimately… what He says about you is what really matters “ (this paragraph was copied and pasted from this blog-post).
Photo credit: https://www.istockphoto.com/photo/jesus-reaching-out-gm182707450-12497376