Preface: Complex concepts like justification, righteousness, and sanctification were easily grasped through Jesus’ ability to tell a story. He knew that difficult concepts can often be understood through symbols and metaphors.
When I think of Jesus’ three parables about “lostness,” I am struck by a common theme that must be very important, since Jesus repeated it in three similar ways.
In the story of the lost sheep, He said, “Would you not go find it?” First, we have the opportunity actively to seek others and to share the gift of God’s love with them. But Jesus does not stop here. When the lost sheep is found, it is time to rejoice and celebrate.
In the parable of the lost coin, once again friends are invited over and rejoicing takes place.
Finally, there is the story of the returning wayward son. The focus at the end of the story is on the celebration the father prepared for the son with music, dance, and a feast. The father had forgiven the son and announced a celebration even before being asked for forgiveness. He also told the older son, “It is right to celebrate for he is your brother . . . for he was lost and is now found.”
As I think of my own walk with God and how wonderful it is that He has saved me, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that it is such a wonderful gift. It is also easy to lose a sense of responsibility to share my joy with others.
Everyone deserves the right to hear about the love of God. We must be careful not to prejudge people and to think they are not interested in spiritual questions. If we are so happy in what we have found, will they refuse to find themselves a part of the same joy?
God looks actively for us, searching us out and says we should do the same. He teaches us to celebrate with people who return or are found. Finally, He wants us to resist ever assuming that someone is not ready to hear about God. All deserve the chance to decide for themselves.