"There will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent." Luke 15:7
Julia Ward Howe, a prominent woman in Civil War times – and author of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” – one time interceded with an “eminent senator” in behalf of someone in need. But the senator replied that he “was so busy saving the human race that he couldn’t be bothered about an individual.”
Jesus often taught large multitudes. But He never overlooked the importance of an individual. The sermon of Jesus that we have on record in the New Testament in John 4 is the one He addresses to an audience of one – the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. Another discourse rich in instruction was delivered to a class of one – Nicodemus – in John 3. The New Testament gospels report many instances when Jesus interrupted His journey to help someone by the wayside.
Heavy in its emphasis on the value and importance of the single person is the instruction Jesus gives in His three lost-and-found parables in Luke 15: the recovery of the lost sheep, the finding of the lost coin, and the reinstatement of the lost son. In each instance joy prevailed at the end. The shepherd arranged for a party with his friends and neighbors, the housewife did the same, and the forgiving father in the parable of the prodigal son likewise arranged for a celebration when the son returned. Jesus said there is “rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10).
Our Lord stresses that we must not let individual persons disappear in nondescript, faceless crowds – not fail to see individual trees, as it were, because of the forest. It is good for us that Jesus sets a high value on each single person. It is good, for when He gave His life on the cross, it was for you and for me. In Holy Baptism He brought us, one by one, into fellowship with Him. He sends His Holy Spirit into our individual hearts. He hears our prayers, One on one.
PRAYER: Thank You, Lord Jesus, for thinking of me and providing for my salvation long before I was born, and for dealing with me Person-to-person. Amen.
(Devotions from "With Jesus Every Day" copyright 1997, CPH. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be printed, reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission of Concordia Publishing House. Permission is granted for one-time emailing of this link to a friend. For information on other devotional material, please contact CPH at 800-325-3040 or visit CPH at www.cph.org.)
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