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. (Luke 15:3-7)
Most likely, we all have listened or began a story with the words “Remember that one time …" Then for the next 10 minutes we began listening or telling a story about a specific event or circumstance that made an impression on our lives. These stories may contain a positive story line, but may also contain a negative story line. For example, a positive story may begin “Remember that one time we were able to help out the Sanders family?” or a negative story may begin “Remember that one time we were involved in a terrible accident?” In either example the circumstance is given some sort of value, whether negative or positive. I recall the wise words a fellow pastor, “There are two types of people you will remember in this life: Those that have helped you and treated you well, and those that have hurt you and treated you poorly.” Again, a negative and a positive value can be assigned to the person and/or experience with that individual. These examples help us relate to the importance or the value of one person or one circumstance.
The Bible passage presented above is a story that is being told by Jesus in response to one accusation by one group of religious leaders called the Pharisees. Their accusation — “Jesus was a friend to publicans and sinners.” Within this parable, an earthly example with a spiritual application, we see the value or importance that is emphasized over just one individual, the sinner. In examining this passage here are few simple questions. Who causes the joy? The sinner. What causes the joy? Repentance. Where does the joy take place? In heaven. This parable is teaching us the value of one person, the sinner; with one action; repentance; in one place, heaven. It helps illustrate the value of one.
Jesus is using the illustration of losing one sheep to illustrate a spiritual application: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” One God, sent His one and only Son, so that one sinner could repent. Jesus is not limiting the lesson to one specific sinner being able to repent. Rather, He is using the parable to teach us the value of one sinner repenting from sin and by faith turning to Christ as Savior. Scripture teaches us that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Every individual is a sinner and is in need of repentance to Christ as their Savior.
In closing, understand that Jesus suffered and died for every sinner, but the joy in heaven occurs when one repents. Everyone of us are sinners and are in need of repentance to the Savior Jesus Christ. The moment we repent and place our faith in Jesus Christ all of heaven rejoices! Jesus endured the cruel death of the cross because he knew the value of one. That one being you! Have you repented and believed in Him? He believes your soul is valuable. So much so He was willing to lay down his life so that you may be granted eternal life if you simply repent and believe in Him.
Tim Braddock is pastor of Emerald Coast Baptist Church in Miramar Beach and can be reached at Tbraddock@emeraldcoastbc.com.