Read: Luke 15
“In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!” (Luke 15:7, NLT)
The message of this chapter is unmistakable: Lost people matter to God!
Jesus tells three parables that make up the entirety of Luke 15: The parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son. Each story features something lost—something of such value—that no expense and no effort are spared to see to their return.
At the end of each of these three stories Jesus uses a line to speak of the unmitigated joy expressed in their recovery:
“In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!” (Luke 15:7)
“In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.” (Luke 15:10)
“We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!” (Luke 15:32)
Again, the message is clear: God’s highest priority is the reclamation of lost people. They matter to God. And all of heaven celebrates their return.
Likewise, there is a clear application of utmost importance here for you and me: Since lost people matter to God, they ought to matter to us as well. No expense and no effort should be spared to aid in their recovery. Furthermore, we ought also to celebrate what heaven celebrates—the return of even one sinner to God.
But with these stories comes a clear warning: Watch out for we might call E.B.S.—the Elder Brother Syndrome (see Luke 15:25-30). E.B.S. resents the attention and effort made in the recovery and repentance of the sinner, and it is so easy to slip into it. It grows out of self-righteousness. It questions the authenticity of the sinner’s repentance. It refuses to rejoice at what heaven celebrates. And it couldn’t be further from what is at the very the heart of heaven, and our Father who resides there.
The call of Luke 15 must be our calling, too! What God prioritizes we must make our priority! If heaven celebrates repentant sinners, we ought to throw a party when one finds salvation. Lost people matter to God; they must matter to us as well!
“If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our bodies. If they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees. Let no one go there unwarned and unprayed for.” ~Charles Spurgeon
What If God Took Over?
Honestly, have you been infected with E.B.S., even just a little? Perhaps you should go to God and ask for forgiveness, and his help in getting a right attitude.