Rejoice When Sinners Repent

September 11, 2022

Pastor John Hering

Luke 15:1-10

Luke 15:1-10

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

There have been opportunities for me to preach on the radio.  In Japan we had a radio station where I was invited to preach twice a year.  Today, I would compare this to preaching over our livestream (Youtube/Facebook).  When I consider that our service is being broadcast, exactly what should I preach?  That answer is easy: I want to preach the Word of God, Law and Gospel, Sin and Grace.  So, today the Word of God from Luke 15 is before us.  I am happy to preach about the love of our Savior to seek the lost and the joy in heaven due to the rescue of one more soul.  On the other hand, this Word of God also steps on the toes of our society and might embarrass or anger those who are self-righteous in that they believe their lifestyle is not sinful or does not need to be forgiven.  Today, God’s Word calls those people, “The Lost.”

Luke starts out like this:

“Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus.”

Luke 15:1

These were notorious, public sinners, but sinners who had been brought to repentance through the mighty preaching of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ.  They continued to gather around Jesus to hear his words of comfort, relief, and instruction.  But, will Jesus have anything to do with such despicable people?  Will Jesus tuck in his garment so that it isn’t contaminated by their touch?  We know how Jesus dealt with them from the next verse:

“But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

Luke 15:2

These actions present the Hard Truth for us to consider today.  The Found are Left and the Lost are Found. The “Found” are those self-righteous people who thought they didn’t need a Savior.  The Lost were those evildoers, the sinners.  Jesus received them with kindness and welcomed their invitation to enter their homes and sit at their tables.  Saying Jesus received them with kindness does not mean that he made light of their sin.  Jesus received sinners to forgive and cleanse them from their condemnation.  Jesus also called sin, sin and guilt, guilt.  But, Jesus came with mercy to seek and to save the Lost with his redeeming compassion. Jesus also sharply rebuked those self-righteous people who were offended by his kindness toward sinners. Today Jesus teaches us that it is proper to

Rejoice When Sinners Repent

For there is joy in heaven over a sinner who repents.

Joy in heaven – When we listen to Luke’s account of Jesus’ conversation with the people we love to hear about sinners who came to repent of their sins and faith in Jesus’ forgiveness. We love to imagine the angels rejoicing in heaven.  We love to put ourselves in Jesus’ parables as the lost sheep and the lost coin.

4Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home…… Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?

Or think of the account of the Prodigal Son, and we love the part about the son coming home with repentance on his heart and the father receiving him back home and having a huge party for him.  Can you picture this in heaven right now?  God isn’t cold and removed from his creation.  The Lord, along with the rest of heaven, erupts with joy when sinners come before him with repentant hearts.  It happened just minutes ago when we began our service by repenting of our sins.  Can you hear the Angles In Heaven Rejoicing?!?!

Grief Over the Lost

Yet, because we are living in a world that is still infected with sin and rebellion against God, we also experience the Grief of sin that deadens the sounds of heaven. Maybe you’ve experienced that dark cloud that rests over your family when a son or daughter full of promise and talent turns out to be a disappointing failure.  What sorrow and grief God must feel when the people he created to love and serve him, lose their way, rebel against their Maker, and in unbelief head down a path that the Bible tells us ends in eternal death.  Just as grief fills the heart of God, so it fills our heart as well.  We yearn to give a special measure of love and attention to them.  Yes, it can be argued that the compassion and mercy of God shined forth the brightest where the tragic consequences of sin appear plainly and painfully.  We don’t have to look hard to see this when God created everything for mankind to make our lives truly happy and harmonious.  Then after Satan, sin and mankind’s weakness ruined it all God’s grief Over the Lost was overcome by God’s love to come and save us, restore our relationship with him once again.  Yes, there is great Rejoicing in Heaven When Sinners Repent!

Outreach of Love

It is easy for us to recognize God’s amazing love in Jesus’ parables.  Whether it is the woman seeking the coin that rolled under the table and into the dusty corner and she searches for it until it is found.  Or the Good Shepherd leaves the 99 who are in no apparent danger to seek the one sheep that has strayed away.  He works with great care and patience to fight through the terrain and find his dearly loved sheep.  Then puts it on his shoulders and returns it to his fold with Great Love. Likewise, thanks be to God who seeks you and me who stray off into the dangerous wasteland of this world, needing spiritual nourishment as our hearts and souls are pricked and bruised by society, temptations and the lure of sinful pleasures.  The Savior Reaches Out With His Love in the voice of the Gospel to point us to the Cross where Jesus died for you.  There Jesus picks us up and puts us on his shoulders with the assurance that everything will be okay as he returns us to his fold. I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” Can you hear the Rejoicing in Heaven When Sinners Repent!?!?  Keep your eyes focused on heaven and listen to the rejoicing of the angels

Being Reminded of the Great Mercy that We have Experienced

When we hear the Gospel statement that Jesus receives sinners we most certainly rejoice for that is what happened to us.  We were once the lost sheep and the lost coin.  Our sin separated us from God, led to a life of rebellion against God, and caused us to fall away from God.  Our sinful nature follows our will and desire rather than God’s will and command.  It is all too easy for us to consider ourselves good in comparison to those who are gross sinners who have fallen into public disgrace.  We can easily look down on the pedophiles, robbers, liars and cheats.  But, we also know the Bible tells us:

“There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. 

Romans 3:23

Because of our sinful condition the Bible also tells us that we were God’s enemies, blind and unable to find our way back to God by ourselves. Left alone in this condition we all would have perished in hell—lost forever.

Saved by Mercy

But, just like the women seeking her lost coin and the shepherd his lost sheep, Jesus came to seek and to save you and me.  The Mercy of God caused him to set forth the plan for us.  Jesus came to live a perfect life for you.  Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty of all your sins.  Then the Holy Spirit caused the Gospel to bring our spiritually dead hearts alive to convince us to believe in Jesus.  Then it happened:

“In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Luke 15:10

God’s mercy saved us by his plan.  God’s mercy saved us by his Son.  God’s mercy saved us by creating faith in you to receive what God has to offer—Jesus receives sinners!  How can anyone find fault with Jesus for receiving sinners?  How deeply thankful we are for this truth!  Today we are Being Reminded of the Great Mercy that We have Experienced in Christ.

 This is also the Gospel we are to proclaim to others, especially to those who are still the lost coin and the lost sheep.  There are some who simply want God to leave them alone.  They are lost.  There are some who have convinced themselves that the way of the world’s lifestyle is good and God’s way is bad.  They are lost.  There are some who are being tempted to leave behind the truth of God’s Word for the false teachings that sound good to their hears. They are lost.  God has called us to proclaim the wonders of his love to them.  Listen to it again: Jesus has come to seek and to save the lost.  In Jesus there is hope for everyone—for the lowest and the worst.  Jesus comes to welcome sinners with kindness, to cleanse and restore people like you and me.  Then listen to the rejoicing in heaven.  And when you’re finished listening, be eager to Proclaim what you have experienced.  Proclaim the Words of Jesus! 

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Matthew 11:28,29

Why?

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

Acts 4:12

Dear Christian Friends, there is joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, and you have been reminded of the Great Mercy you Have Experienced.  God grant that we would all continue to receive his mercy, forgiveness and grace as we wait for the day when we will be in heaven to rejoice with repentant, glorious and forgiven sinners.  Amen!

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