Jesus told two stories that tell everything we need to know about finding our way back to the Father.
“Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep and lost one. Wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until you found it? When found, you can be sure you would put it across your shoulders, rejoicing and when you got home, call in your friends and neighbors, saying ‘Celebrate with me! I’ve found my lost sheep!’ Count on it – there’s more joy in heaven over one sinner’s rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue.” Luke 15:3-7
The Lost Son. A son demanded an early inheritance. This was like saying to the dad, “I wish you were dead.” He left home, partied, wasted all his money and fell into poverty. He was hungry, lonely and living in a pig pen. Finally, he came to his senses and headed back home.
“When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. The son started his speech: Father I’ve sinned against God. I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son ever again. But the father wasn’t listening. He called to the servants – Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then get a grain-fed heifer and roast it. We’re going to feast! We’re going to have a wonderful time! My son is here – given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found! And they began to have a wonderful time.” Luke 15:20-24
Neither the lost sheep nor the rebellious son were reprimanded. No finger-wagging. No slaps on the side of the head. Fear that God will “get even” keeps many from returning to Him. We know we deserve punishment, therefore, we expect God to make us pay up.
If anyone should have made amendments, it was Paul. He persecuted and killed many of Jesus’ early followers. Instead, Jesus, who is by now resurrected and in Heaven, appears to Paul on the road while he is travelling to Damascus to wreak more havoc.
“Who are you?” Paul asked.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
This was the beginning of a new life for Paul. Paul suffered numerous persecutions. In spite of them, he went on to lead many sinners to Christ. And to author several books in the New Testament. In his letter to the Christians at Rome, Paul wrote:
“There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)
God is not out to get the rebellious. He won’t make them pay for their sins.
Because Jesus paid the price already and nothing of the debt remains. Nothing. This is the epitome of unconditional love.
When Jesus died on the cross, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting our sins against us.” (II Corinthians 5:9)
Rose McCormick Brandon is the author of four books, including One Good Word Makes all the Difference and Promises of Home – Stories of Canada’s British Home Children. Visit her website at: writingfromtheheart.webs.com and her blogs Promises of Home and Listening to my Hair Grow.