Terry R. Baughman
“And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’” (Luke 15:6).
Around holidays and celebrations it is common to invite friends together to share the joy of the occasion. No one wants to have a party all alone. Part of the joy of celebration is being able to share the experience with those you love.
Jesus told the parable of the shepherd who carefully counted the sheep at the close of the day only to find that one was missing. The shepherd wasn’t satisfied to have ninety-nine safely in the fold and express in resignation, “Oh well, it’s just one sheep.” Rather, he immediately set out to search for the lost lamb. With persistence he retraced their paths and diligently sought the missing one. His methodical search was rewarded when he found the stray and returned with the single lost sheep.
However, the story didn’t stop with the recovery of the wandering lamb. The joy of a successful search caused the shepherd to plan a celebration. It hardly seemed justified to throw such a party for what must have been a common occurrence in the life of a shepherd, but that didn’t deter him from inviting friends and neighbors to celebrate the return of a lost sheep. Jesus justified the celebration when He said, “There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7).
Great value was assessed to this little lamb to be worthy of such a celebration. The story illustrates the tremendous value Jesus gives to every lost soul. The Savior celebrates every lost one who is returned to the fold.
In the parable of the lost coin that follows the parable of the lost sheep, a similar celebration occurs. The woman who lost one coin was so ecstatic over its recovery she threw a party and invited her friends and neighbors for a celebration. The parallel lesson was given when Jesus said, “There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10). When lost ones are recovered even the angels in heaven rejoice!
The last parable in this setting was the lost son who willingly left the father’s house in search of selfish pleasure. After a long separation and the lost son’s bitter experience, there was cause for great celebration and rejoicing with friends when the prodigal returned home again. Repentance and returns are great occasions for rejoicing!
During the season of Thanksgiving, let us take some time to gather with friends, recount our multitude of blessings and rejoice for renewal and recovery of all who have come to join our community of worship!
Rejoice with friends!
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity” (Proverbs 17:17).