“Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. And he spake this parable unto them, saying, What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” Luke 15:1-10
When publicans (tax collectors for the Roman government) and other sinners came to Jesus to hear Him and learn of the forgiveness of sins and eternal life which He offered to all, the Pharisees and scribes were critical of Jesus for associating with such sinners. As a result, Jesus told two parables to point out that anyone who loses an item of value will seek it until he finds it.
A shepherd with one hundred sheep who loses one does not say, “I still have ninety-nine,” and then forget about the one that is lost. Even the scribes and Pharisees would not do such a thing! Nor would a woman with ten silver coins who lost one of them just forget about the one lost coin and be content with the nine. Both the shepherd and the woman in these two parables would seek out and find that which was lost. Then they would rejoice because they had found that lost sheep or that lost coin. And, wouldn’t we also act in the same way if we were to lose something of ours?
So also, every soul is extremely important to the LORD God. He created mankind — each and every one of us — to live for Him and serve Him in eternal righteousness. Because we fell into sin, He sent His only-begotten Son into this world a true man, that He might fulfill the righteous demands of God’s Law for us and then suffer and die for our sins that we might look to Him in faith and receive God’s pardon and forgiveness. Jesus Christ came into this world to save sinners, and, during His earthly ministry, He sought out all sinners and turned away none who came to hear His saving Gospel.
Since He had come into this world to redeem fallen mankind by His innocent sufferings and death, it gave our Savior great joy, along with the angels of God in heaven, when a lost sinner repented and turned to Him in faith for forgiveness and life everlasting. Our Lord Jesus was not afraid to associate with sinners; He shed His blood to redeem them!
Those who trust in Christ live in daily repentance, being truly sorry for their sins and trusting in Him for forgiveness and eternal salvation. And it gives our risen Savior, as well as the angels in heaven, great joy when we hear His Word, repent of our sins and place our faith in Christ and His perfect sacrifice on the cross. We certainly should not, as did the scribes and the Pharisees, consider ourselves righteous and in no need of repentance.
The Bible tells us in Proverbs 28:13: “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” In 1 John, we read: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. … My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 1:8-9; 2:1-2).
Christ Jesus appointed apostles and sent them out to preach the Gospel that others, too, might hear the truth, repent of their sins and look in faith to Him for pardon and life eternal. He commanded His disciples to “Go … into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15), to preach “repentance and remission of sins … in his name among all nations” (Luke 24:47). He gives to His church pastors and missionaries yet today to carry on this work (cf. Eph. 4:12).
Like our Savior, should it not be our desire to seek out lost souls and rejoice when they are brought to repentance. We should not be satisfied if 99 percent of our members are continuing in the truth and only one percent is going astray; we should seek the lost until they are found and returned to the fold. The same is true of the lost souls who are not under the care of a congregation. We should, in the love of our Savior, seek out the lost and seek to bring them to the Good Shepherd by sharing with them the saving truths of God’s Word.
Christ Jesus shed His holy, precious blood to redeem them. We also ought to care enough for their souls to share with them the good news of forgiveness and life everlasting through faith in the Savior. Never should we be satisfied with the 99 who are in the fold, nor should we ever be ashamed to be seen sharing the Gospel with lost sinners, no matter how bad their past reputations! We remember that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).
O gracious Father, grant that we repent of our sins and trust in Christ Jesus for pardon and forgiveness, and give us a love for the lost that we also reach out to them with the good news of forgiveness and life through faith in our Savior. Amen.
[Scripture quoted from the King James Version of the Bible.]
“God Loved the World so that He Gave”
1 God loved the world so that He gave
His only Son the lost to save
That all who would in Him believe
Should everlasting life receive.
2 Christ Jesus is the Ground of faith,
Who was made flesh and suffered death;
All that confide in Him alone
Are built on this chief Cornerstone.
3 God would not have the sinner die,
His Son with saving grace is nigh,
His Spirit in the Word doth teach
How man the blessed goal may reach.
4 Be of good cheer, for God’s own Son
Forgives all sins which thou hast done,
And, justified by Jesus’ blood,
Thy Baptism grants the highest good.
5 If thou be sick, if death draw near,
This truth thy troubled heart can cheer:
Christ Jesus saves my soul from death;
That is the firmest ground of faith.
6 Glory to God the Father, Son,
And Holy Spirit, Three in One!
To Thee, O blessed Trinity,
Be praise now and eternally! Amen.
Also hat Gott die Welt geliebt
Translator: August Crull, d. 1923 (alt.)
Author: Unknown (1791, cento)
The Lutheran Hymnal #245