In Luke’s Gospel, Chapter 15, Jesus gives a trilogy of parables that ended up in celebrations describing the everlasting love of God, and how He looks at lostness. The first began after a shepherd found a sheep he’d lost. He had 99 others. He could have been content to write this one off as a loss. But shepherds don’t think like businessmen. So he searched for it. When he found the sheep, he carried it back to the flock, cut the best grass for the sheep to eat and had a party to celebrate.
The second party was held in front of a house. A housewife had lost a coin. It wasn’t her only coin, but you would have thought it was by the way she acted. She lights a candle to chase the darkness from the room and sweeps the floor diligently not to exclude turning over furniture to find that one coin which was lost. And when she did, she ran shouting into the cul-de-sac and invited her neighbors over for a party to celebrate.
Then, there is the story of the lost son. The boy who broke his father’s heart by taking his inheritance and taking off. He refuses to wait until his father dies but demands his part to be given to him at this very moment. He trades his dignity for a whisky bottle and his self-respect for a pigpen. Then comes the son’s sorrow and his decision to go home with hopes that his dad will give him a job in the field and a room in the stables. However, what he finds is a father who has kept his absent son’s place set at the table and the porch light on every night. When the son finally arrives home admitting his mistakes, you’ll never guess what the father does. That’s right! He throws a party!
Party-loving prodigals love what the father does, but the older is furious. Perhaps saying within himself, “This is how I get treated? He goes out and wastes his inheritance and is rewarded as I have stayed home and been faithful!” So, as the party for his lost-yet-found, dead-yet-alive brother was going on he sat outside the house and pouted. This depicts many who boasts about their faithfulness in religion, and longevity within the body of Christ as they develop amnesia that they have not always been blood-bought, blood-washed and spirit-filled. Jesus has always been benevolent to the banished, dedicated to the despised and responsive to the repulsive. It appears that both sons spent time in the pigpen. One in the pen of rebellion, the other in the pen of self-pity. The younger son has come home, and the older son has not. The younger son wandered off into a far country getting lost while the older son is inside the house and can’t seem to find his way.
As Jesus tells these three celebratory parables, He is accused of eating and drinking with sinners. Notice who throws these accusations: the overly-religious Pharisees and scribes. The sinners gravitated to Him as the religious are abhorred with Him. Jesus says, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (St. Luke 19:10) As the party was going on for his brother; the inquisitive, insolence and ingratitude of the older brother was visible, but it didn’t destroy the party. As long as there is the preaching of the gospel, there is hope of many to experience the saving power of God. However, it is important to God that we who are already in the house share in the celebration when one comes to the house.
“There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repents.” (St. Luke 15:10) My friends, if there is joy in the presence of the angels when a sinner is saved, we must know who is in their presence. If God can be excited and throw a party for one who has turned their life around, then certainly we can become participators in His divine plan.