“I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.” ~Luke 15:7
The message of Luke 15 is unmistakable: Lost people matter to God!
Jesus tells three parables that make up the entirety of chapter 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:
“There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.” (Luke 15:7)
“Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:10)
“It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and 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. And 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 what we might call the EBS—Elder Brother Syndrome (see Luke 15:25-30). EBS resents the attention and effort made in the recovery and repentance of the sinner. Sadly, it is so easy for God’s children to slip into it. Elder Brother Syndrome grows out of self-righteousness. It questions the authenticity of the sinner’s repentance. It refuses to rejoice at what heaven celebrates. Mostly, 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 they don’t, then see the Great Physician. You likely need treatment for Elder Brother Syndrome—maybe even a heart transplant.
“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