"When he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home." Luke 15:5
To celebrate means to rejoice together over an event—perhaps a victory, a birthday, a wedding, or a family reunion. Perhaps someone long absent has come home. The return is celebrated with a party.
The recovery of a lost sheep was an important event among Palestinian shepherds. At stake had been the loss of a living being—a beloved lamb, perhaps a ewe with a broken leg, or a sheep that the shepherd knew by name. To find it and restore it to the flock marked the triumph of the shepherd’s love and concern. Here was the truly human touch so easily lost in the age of machines.
To be sure, there is joy in heaven over all the faithful members of Christ’s church, over the so-called ninety-nine who remain true to their Savior. The Lord and His angels are happy over their constancy and consistency, their spiritual growth, and their service in and to the flock to which the Good Shepherd ministers. But there is also joy—exceeding great joy—over one sinner who repents and returns to Christ’s church of believers.
Why this great joy? It means the recovery of a human soul worth more than all the material wealth of the world. It means the reinstatement of a person for whom Jesus Christ shed His precious blood. It means the restoration of an essential link in the golden chain of Christian fellowship. It means regaining a lost jewel in the crown of the King of kings, Jesus Christ, whom God brought back from the dead “through the blood of the eternal covenant” (Hebrews 13:20).
If a sinner’s repentance occasions great joy in heaven, shouldn’t we on earth likewise rejoice and renew our efforts to bring straying sheep into Christ’s fold?
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, help me to guide a lost or straying person back to You. 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.)