The joy of God (What happens when a person confesses their sin and returns to God, the love of God)
Reading: Luke 15:1-10
Additional reading: Matthew 18:12-14
Have you ever got lost somewhere?
What do you do when you get lost?
You might become anxious, right?
Or, you might regret about your lack of preparation.
Sometimes, when you get lost, you worry about those who are looking for you.
If you cannot call them, you may be more anxious, right?
Your phone died.
You know your friend was waiting.
Or your parent was waiting.
You know that they would worry about you.
But you have no way to reach them.
When we get lost, we might have this kind of situation.
So, we don't want to be lost.
Today, Jesus is talking about those kinds of situation.
One of the reasons is because some religious people didn’t understand why Jesus was hanging out with sinners or, losers.
So, they complained about that.
They didn't eat with sinners and social outcasts.
But Jesus continually welcomed sinners and had a good time with them.
Now, Jesus tried to explain why.
It was because Jesus understood about the gracious God who welcomed those who were disliked or despised.
Shall we listen to this story again to understand the mind of Jesus?
Jesus said something like this:
(1) “There is a guy who has a hundred sheep.
In the afternoon, he realized that he lost one sheep.
So, he left the ninety-nine and goes after the lost sheep.
(2) He searched and searched for the sheep.
He went to everywhere.
He felt that this sheep might be in deep trouble.
In the story, of course, this guy who goes after his lost sheep is God.
God goes after the lost.
God goes after those who lost their way.
God tries everything that God can do to find.
Then God sent Jesus to find them and bring them back.
So, Jesus stopped everything to find them.
(3) Then he found the sheep.
(4) Rescuing the sheep, he was so happy
He picked him up and joyfully carried him home.
(5) Then he returned his sheep to his mom.
Now he was so joyful, he couldn’t just sit and watch TV.
He called his friends and neighbors together and says:
“Rejoice with me.
I have found my lost sheep.
Let’s have a party!”
This is how Jesus explains about God.
So, Jesus is looking for those who have never experienced anything about the goodness of God.
Jesus is saying:
“This is how God rejoices over one sinner who turns around.
God has ninety-nine good people who do not need to change their lives.
But God rejoices and throws a party when one sheep comes back to God.”
This is how Jesus understood about the heart of God.
Through this story, Jesus said that he has joined God in this search.
In spiritual world, finding the lost is more important than taking care of the rest.
So, Jesus goes after the lost, knowing the heart of God.
Then Jesus guides and teaches them, because God desires to add them into God’s kingdom.
Let's think about this story again.
(1) First, we can imagine what some of the ninety-nine sheep might have said about God?
They also need this shepherd.
So, some might say:
“Hey, God, what about us?
If you go after the lost, who is going to take care of us?”
Or, some might say, “Oh boy, here God goes again.”
Or, some might pray that the lost be found easily.
Some might start to take care of other sheep while God was away.
(3) Some of them might wonder: how did this one get lost?
She might have just followed the path that looked good.
Or in a human life, she might have been just pursuing some important goals in life.
She might have worked hard to achieve something.
But then later, she realized that she got lost.
Things seem blurry and vague.
He cannot think clearly.
She tried to get back to God.
But she didn’t know how.
She couldn’t discern which way leads to God.
She used to walk along with other faithful people who helped her to find the right path.
For some reason she lost it.
So, Jesus needs to bring her back.
(3) Jesus told another story to explain the heart of God. (Luke 15:8-10)
He says something like this:
(3) “There is a woman has ten silver coins.
They used to wear them like this at that time.
(2) Then she realized that she lost one.
(3) Then she lighted a lamp and searched inside the house.
This was so important to her.
(4) She cleaned her house room searching carefully to find it.
(5-7) She looked everywhere to find the lost silver.
(8) Then she found it.
(9) So she called her friends and neighbors together and said:
“Rejoice with me.
I have found my lost coin.”
Finishing this story, Jesus said:
“Likewise, God's angels throw a party every time when one person turns to God."
As for God, people are so precious.
They are precious more than anything else.
God values them so much.
So, God searches for people who got lost in the house of God.
God searches for people who got lost anywhere in this world.
God wants to find them.
So God sends us to search for them.
God shows appreciation when we find them.
Then, God wants to give them gifts.
God does not want them to be buried somewhere in the room.
God does not want them to be buried in some corner of this world.
God searches for them, because God loves them.
In the same way, God loves you, too.
Can you imagine this is what God is trying to in this world?
God desires to touch our hearts so that we may sense God’s love.
God is always speaking to us:
“You are precious to me.
I love you.” (Isaiah 43:4)
When we realize this truth, we may love others like God.
Then we can help them to listen to God, who says:
“I love you. You are my servants. I have chosen you.”
Those who love God need to remember this.
God loves everyone.
Jesus is sent to explain this simple truth.
So, Jesus invites us to search for the lost together with Jesus.
People need to know that they are precious and loved.
So, Jesus may ask you to pray for the lost.
They are so precious.
We are called to try to reconcile between God and people.
When God finds the lost, God cannot hide God’s joy.
God is so emotional about this.
When a person is changed, God throws a party.
Have you ever seen God rejoicing?
Have you ever seen God jumps for joy?
Now you can imagine.
Then you may meet God in your own imagination.
Jesus says this imagination is the truth.
Jesus explained that through this kind of stories.
Because God rejoices like this, the best way to serve God is to go out and find the lost.
It is true that sometimes we can find the lost inside the church.
So if you want to serve God, you may need to move out, seeking every chance to help the lost come home.
Through our words and deeds, we hope that we could help people to find God.
How do people find God?
Sometimes, they find God by talking about their disappointing experience of religious people.
As they talk about it, they may think about the true God.
Because we know what makes God happy, we may pray for them as we listen to their stories.
Then they may gain understanding.
Sometimes, people find God by looking at you.
People find God by being with you.
God will speak through you even when you don't recognize.
So, Jesus sends you to this world.
Think about it.