Focus Text: Luke 15.8-10
Jesus continued His response to the cold-hearted Pharisees who disdained lowly sinners and exalted themselves beyond measure: “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!’ Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15.8-10.
Concerning the last phrase in the focus text, A. T. Robertson says, “That is to say, the joy of God himself. The angels are in a sense the neighbours (sic) of God.” Guy N. Woods used to state that this passage does not speak of the rejoicing of the angels, but rather of the rejoicing of God “…in the presence of the angels.” Regardless of these thoughts, it is certain that the parable was intended to teach how God treats or responds to sinners. Of course the sinners here are not just sinners; they are penitent sinners who are brought back into the fold of safety after having once been there. In application, the sinner represented by the coin was once in the possession of the woman, but it became lost. Likewise, the sinner was once in God’s care, but became lost.
If joy was generated in the presence of the angels by the repentance of the sinner represented in the parable, consider what must have been the case 5 seconds before the sinner repented; less joy was in heaven! It would be a mistake to speak of sadness in heaven, but it is reality to see that God wanted his lost one to come home and joy erupted when he did. It is also significant to see that the woman put forth great effort in finding the coin, just as God puts forth great effort in trying to bring sinners to Himself. What a shame for such a Divine effort to go for naught! Perhaps that is one reason that God rejoices over the saving of one sinner; His great work has not been done in vain!
Looking at the parable in its context, the accusation that Jesus received sinners, what else is there of which we have knowledge that makes God rejoice? Certainly He is glad when the faithful remain faithful, but He is more joyous when the sinner comes home. Sometimes we, like the Pharisees, get this reversed. We see God as smiling over the faithful (which I am certain He does), but scarcely being stirred when the sinner repents and begins to walk with God once again. Nothing could be further from the truth!
If God’s reaction is as depicted in this and other parables, how should we respond when a sinner repents? Should we sit with stolid hands and hearts as we often do when one of God’s children comes home? God help us if that is our attitude! How can we be any better than the Pharisee when we find such pleasure in earthly things, and value so poorly things of eternal import? Far too often other things demand our time and attention; we must hurry to the restaurant before the crowd gets there; we must get home to watch our favorite sporting event; we must do almost anything other than throw our arms around our penitent brother and welcome him home! God help us to get our priorities right!
1. How many coins did the woman have? How many did she lose?
2. What did she do to find the coin? Was her effort superficial or extensive?
3. According to this parable, what does God do when a sinner repents?
4. If God did not have this kind of attitude toward sinners, where would we stand in His sight?
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