1) The Parable of the Lost Sheep
- Jesus explains to the Pharisees that if one sheep out of a hundred wanders away, the shepherd would go and get the one sheep and celebrate that it had been found. Jesus ends with, "There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous person who need no repentance."
2) The Parable of the Lost Coin
- A woman loses one of her ten coins. She searches "diligently" to find it- and does. She celebrates. Jesus ends the parable with, "There is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents."
3) The Parable of the Prodigal Son
- A wealthy man's son asks for his inheritance before his father dies, then goes and spends it foolishly in sinful living. After going completely broke and starving, he returns home realizing his fathers servants are better fed than himself. His father extends abundant grace on him and not only accepts him home, but celebrates in his return. After the other son questions his fathers celebration toward the sinful brother, his father responds, "It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found."
Do you notice a repetitive theme in these three parables? Something was lost and that something- be it a sheep, coin or son- became found. In each of the three parables there was much rejoicing over each of the things lost. The first two parables end with Jesus saying there will be much joy in heaven over the sinner who repents. It's a big deal. The third parable is a great picture of how our Father in heaven responds over a person who repents of their sin and returns to Him. There is an abundance of grace displayed to the sinner. The father in the parable did not need to throw his son a party for his return. The father didn't even need to accept him home. The son ungratefully took was was rightfully his at the improper time, and went and spent it all foolishly. If my son Oskar spent his allowance (which he doesn't even get yet because he is 2, and which would be like $5, not thousands...) on something foolish (like gumballs in a gumball machine) would I say, "Oh Oskar, it's okay. You spent your money foolishly, I'll just give you another $5." Probably not. Obviously as a parent we can use grace as a means to display the Father's love but it's not always our first response to our child's irresponsible behavior (which there are many more severe examples other than spending his $5 on gum!) Anyway, my point here is that the Father displayed an undeserved merit on his son- aka grace. The other son, didn't understand it at all and got quite angry with his dd. Why was the son who left irresponsibly, spending all his inheritance foolishly and sinfully treated like a prince when he returned- when I who have been here faithfully the whole time not given appreciation? I understand how this brother feels. And maybe you side with him- because you don't understand grace. You wouldn't if you've never experienced it. Grace from our Father in heaven is much more astounding than this earthly example, yet some of us still might wrestle with it. Why? you might ask. Why would the father celebrate his homecoming? It's wrapped up in one answer. Grace.
The beautiful thing about it, is it's hard to understand because as humans, grace doesn't come easy. We want to give people what they deserve. Grace in this parable was shown to the son once he returned into the arms of his loving father. Our Father in heaven shows us abounding grace when we choose to return to Him with his arms open wide. It doesn't matter what you've done against Him, He is waiting for you to return to Him. Jesus said it in the first two parables: "There is joy in heaven over a sinner who repents."
Are you in need of repentance? Have you ever experienced the undeserved grace of our Heavenly Father? Are you like the brother who says I've been good, what about me? I believe I can connect that thought with the end of verse 7: "...there will be more joy...than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance." Are you the one who doesn't think they need repentance?
How do you relate to these parables?