Luke 15:3-4 (ESV) 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?
In the opening verses of this chapter, we read that the Jewish leader were accusing Jesus of being around sinners and eating with them. In response, Jesus told them the following three stories. Jesus’ first story begins with a man having a large flock of one hundred sheep. The man has a problem though, one of the sheep is missing.
He has a choice, he can just forget about the one and be content with the 99. Or he can leave the 99 in the open country, which may not be so save and go after the one lost sheep. In the story, the shepherd chooses to go after the one and search until he finds it.
Luke 15:5-6 (ESV) 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.’
When the shepherd finally finds the lost sheep, he carries it back to the flock rejoicing. We see that the finding of the lost sheep brings joy to the shepherd who found it. When the shepherd returns home, he calls together all his friends and neighbors to rejoice with him. They rejoice because the lost sheep has been found.
Luke 15:7 (ESV) 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.
Jesus now turns to the meaning of the story that he just told. The lost sheep corresponds to a sinner who repents from his sin and believes in Jesus, the shepherd. When a lost sinner is found, there is joy in heaven, the shepherd rejoices and the sinner rejoices. Joy in heaven and on the earth.
The 99 sheep in the flock correspond to believers who have already repented. There was joy when they repented, but the focus is always on the lost who have repented. Undoubtedly, the 99 rejoiced to have the one lost sheep returned to the flock as well. Joy comes to heaven and earth through the repentance of one lost sinner.
Jesus is the good shepherd who came to seek and to save the lost. He will go after every person far from Him an seek to bring them back to the fold. True joy then comes into the life of every sinner who repents. To repent is to turn away from their sin and put their faith in Jesus. The joy that comes into a sinner’s life will last forever, both on this earth and for eternity.
The eternal impact of one sinner repenting causes all of heaven rejoice. That joy that Jesus is talking about is available to every believer, simply by making a choice to rejoice. No matter how bad the circumstances in your life may be, you can rejoice because you are no longer lost, you have been found. You are part of the family of God, Jesus’ flock and He will always be your good shepherd. Lasting joy comes through repentance.