I think I misread this passage. When I read Luke 15:1-10, I thought it said the angels rejoiced when a sinner returned to God. That idea is surely there in this text. But there is more joy from heaven than what comes from the angels! Who else is there in heaven to rejoice when a sinner repents? God is rejoicing in heaven when a sinner repents!
It is nice to know the angels are full of joy when we repent. Angels are but the servants of God! For when God is full of joy when we repent, all of heaven will be rejoicing. Yet, heaven need not be the only place that is rejoicing when we repent. Yes, that is right. We who are “righteous” already can rejoice when a sinner repents.
I hope I am never part of a church that grumbles when church leaders are spending time with sinners. It is like Margaret gossiping about the other church members. Whenever she saw a church member’s vehicle parked down at the bar, she would start saying how so-and-so was a drunk. It didn’t matter where she saw someone’s car; she would say they were prostituting, whoring around, or whatever. People were hiding from Margaret so she wouldn’t talk about them. Then there was Bill, an outstanding member of the church. Bill had to meet a guy and carpool for a trip. So they left Bill’s truck near the bar. Well, Margaret started going on about Bill’s drinking problem. Bill had enough of her gossiping. So, on Saturday night Bill left his truck in front of Margaret’s house and walked home. Margaret never again talked about people in the church!
Well, Jesus had a way of putting a stop to the complaining of the Pharisees and the scribes. Jesus was able to move about in all parts of the community. He taught in the synagogues. He was welcomed in the homes of the religious leaders. Jesus taught large crowds. In some of these crowds, there were sinners and tax collectors. This upset the Pharisees and the scribes.
A. They were grumbling (15:1-2)
1. All the tax collectors and sinners wanted to be near Jesus
2. They wanted to hear what Jesus said
3. The Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling about these goings on
4. They didn’t even call Jesus teacher, but “This fellow”!
5. Not only was Jesus welcoming the sinners, but Jesus was eating with them!
6. I would imagine Jesus would eat with that East Liverpool, Ohio couple whose picture was taken of them passed out from their drug activity and the 4 year-old being in the back seat of the van! For tax collectors and sinners were those people who were not like the Pharisees and the scribes. For by eating with sinners and tax collectors, Jesus was being intimate with people whom no righteous person should be around. Yet, Jesus defended his activity.
B. We got to find the lost sheep (15:3-7)
1. Even a Pharisee or a scribe would go and search for a lost sheep!
2. They would even leave the other 99 sheep out in the open to go find that one lost sheep!
3. When a Pharisee or a scribe found his lost sheep, then he would pick it up and be full of joy for the one found sheep
4. Even a Pharisee or a scribe would want his friends to know about his joy in finding the lost sheep
5. In heaven, there will be joy over one sinner repents
6. A sinner can repent in church, at home, or anywhere
7. If there are any righteous people, then the righteous need not repent
8. This is the part where I thought the angels were rejoicing. But as I remember other parts of the Bible, I realize it is God who rejoices when a sinner repents! God does not want us to suffer for our sins. God does not want us to be separated from him. God wants all sinners to return to him. That is why God sent Jesus. The Son of God came to be with us sinners here on earth. Jesus wants to welcome each of us. Jesus wants to dine with each of us. Of course, for those of us who don’t think we need to repent we might want to stop our grumbling about the sinners. Yet, it is marvelous to see people turn o God. For when people turn to God, joy is going to happen!
C. God rejoices! (15:8-10)
1. If a woman has 10 coins and loses one ,then she is going to do everything she can to find that lost coin
2. She is going to tell her friends and neighbors about the find
3. God is going to tell everyone in heaven about the sinner who has been found!
4. God is continuing to look for those sinners who gotten lost
5. It pleases God when one sinner turns to him
6. Can’t we be pleased when one sinner repents? Turning from our sin and turning to God brings joy to God. Turning from our sin and turning to God brings joy in the presence of the angel of God. Realizing this truth helps us. For then we can be excited when we find a lost sinner has turned to God.
Yes, we can eat with sinners and tax collectors. We can welcome all sinners to this church. We say as United Methodists that the table is open. The table we are talking about is the table with Jesus’ body and blood, the bread and the wine, on it. It is Jesus’ table. He welcomes all sinners to come to him. Jesus wants all sinners to repent. I hope we want all sinners to repent.
When even one sinner repents, then God rejoices. I hope we can join God in rejoicing in one sinner who is found. God rejoiced when we were found. Let us stop any grumbling we may be doing. Let us find ways to welcome sinners in our lives.