Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him [Jesus]. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”
Luke 15:1-7 (ESV)
Sheep are raised for their meat, milk, wool, hides, and skins. Sold on the market they are worth around $200.00. No doubt if we misplace $200 we will search for it. We will be distressed that we’ve lost it. For some of us $200 is our entire life savings. All of us recognize a loss of this amount of money is significant. And for a shepherd, who depends on every animal for their livelihood, the loss of a sheep is worth whatever it takes to find it and bring it back into the fold.
Jesus said this is how God feels about us. We are worth whatever it takes to bring us back into the fold. This is why He sent Jesus.
Heaven doesn’t rejoice because we are celebrating the Christmas holiday. Singing Christmas carols is fine. Sharing an extravagant Christmas meal is nice. Giving gifts is a pleasure. But if we want to cause all of heaven to rejoice, including the same angels who announced Jesus’ birth, including the thousands of angels that serve God and His Son each day, that requires something much different. Jesus said, “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nice righteous persons who need no repentance.”
May you be the reason for great rejoicing in heaven this Christmas!