“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.”
“Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ ”
“Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Many of you will recognize these parables as the two that precede the story of the prodigal son. The longer story of the prodigal commands our attention in a more striking fashion than the shorter parables of the shepherd and the woman. We give more attention to the demonstration of the ‘love that ‘receives’ than the love that ‘seeks’. After all, we like to view salvation as a matter of us seeking God from something deep down in our human nature. The shepherd seeking the one lost sheep and the woman seeking her lost coin present us with a slightly different perspective concerning the salvation of men. We are told that it is Jesus who is the ‘seeker’. On 19th Century commentary provides a beautiful picture:
“It is the Shepherd who rejoices when the sheep is found, the woman when the piece of money is in her hand.What an expression of that which God is! How truly is Jesus the one to make it known! It is on this that all the blessing of man can alone be founded. It is in this that God is glorified in His grace.
The shepherd seeks his sheep, the woman her piece of money: the sheep and the piece of silver are passive. The shepherd seeks and the woman also, until hehat which is sought after is found, because they have an interest in the matter. The sheep, wearied with its wanderings, has not to take one step in returning. The shepherd lays it on his shoulders and carries it home. He takes the whole charge, happy to recover his sheep. This is the mind of heaven, whatever the heart of man on earth may be. It is the work of Christ, the Good Shepherd.
The woman sets before us the pains which God takes in His love; so that it is more the work of the Spirit, which is represented by that of the woman. The light is brought — she sweeps the house until she finds the piece she had lost. Thus God acts in the world, seeking sinners. The hateful and hating jealousy of self-righteousness finds no place in the mind of heaven, where God dwells, and produces, in the happiness that surrounds Him, the reflex of His own perfections.” – John Nelson Darby (18 November 1800 – 29 April 1882)
I wonder what it sounds like in Heaven when a preacher pronounces a sinner saved because he ‘accepted’ Jesus for a better life, but didn’t confront his sin?