Oh, that our hearts would not only rejoice, but also break with God's heart!
Read Luke 15:1-10
Our reading today is focused on Luke 15:1-10. As Jesus spoke, it was not unusual to find "tax collectors and other notorious sinners" gathering to listen (verse 1). This bothered the religious teachers and they publicly complained about His association with such reprehensible people. For this reason, Jesus told the story of the lost sheep.
There was a man who had 100 sheep, only to discover one had strayed away and was lost in the wilderness. Listen to the words of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, as He reveals the heart of His mission.
"If you had one hundred sheep, and one of them strayed away and was lost in the wilderness, wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine others to go and search for the lost one until you found it?" Luke 15:4
The ever-faithful heart of the Shepherd. He spoke the assurance that those notoriously lost sheep so desperately needed to hear. Sheep on both sides of the "religious" line. But Jesus didn’t leave it at that. He then went on to describe the incredible joy that occurs when that lost one is brought back to the fold. Reading from The Message version of the Bible, listen to what He said in verse seven.
"... there’s more joy in Heaven over one sinner=s rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue." Luke 15:7 (The Message)
Bringing in the lost. That's what God's love is all about. A love that laughs with the found... but also cries over the lost.
In his book, Let Me Tell You A Story, author and speaker Tony Campolo shares this traditional Hasidic story. There was a great celebration in Heaven after the Israelites were delivered from the Egyptians. Because of their relentless pursuit, virtually the entire Egyptian army drowned in the Red Sea. Even so, the celebration was on. The angels were cheering and dancing; everyone in Heaven was full of joy. Then one of the angels asked the archangel Michael, "Where is God? Why isn't God here celebrating?" Michael solemnly answered, "God is not here because He is off by Himself weeping. You see, many thousands were drowned today."
The matchless love of God. If finding one soul causes the Father to sing ... how much more does losing one thousand cause the Father to weep. Oh, that our hearts would not only rejoice, but also break with God's heart. To be so full of His love that God's tears stain our cheeks. That is God's matchless love. A love that reaches beyond the gates of our little world, and into the world at large. A love that will go to any length... just to bring the lost sheep home.