Third Week in Epiphany – Sunday
Likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. – Luke 15:7.
Today we will continue the parable of Jesus which we did not conclude yesterday. – “Now his elder son was in the field; and, as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said unto him ‘Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf because he hath received him safe and sound.’ And he was angry and would not go in; therefore his father came out and entreated him. And he, answering, said to his father: ‘Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment; and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this thy son was come, who hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.’ And he said unto him: ‘Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet that we should make merry and be glad; for this thy brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found’” (Luke 15:25-32.).
Here you see how there is joy in heaven over one sinner that repents (Psalm 34:18; Psalm 51:17), more than over ninety-nine persons who imagine themselves to be just (Galatians 6:3; cf. Luke 18:11-12), thinking that, once forgiven, they need no repentance for sins into which they fall every day because of their wicked flesh (Romans 7:18-19).
Here you see how even children of God are assailed by wicked arrogance and self-righteousness, and their eye becomes evil and resentful of God’s grace to others because He is so good (Matthew 20:15b) to wretched sinners.
Here you see also how God, desiring the welfare and salvation of all (I Timothy 2:4), including His own wayward children (Job 5:17; Proverbs 3:12), corrects them with His Law, showing them their sins, to the end that they repent and be converted (Acts 3:19) and be set right again in humble faith by His Holy Spirit through His Word (Psalm 51:10-12).
And here you see how the children of God, who themselves have been forgiven and enjoy the blessings of their Father’s House, are, as the fruit of their faith, to join in the joy which is in heaven over even one other sinner that repents.
PRAYER. – Lord, my God, I thank Thee that Thou hast graciously forgiven me all my sins for Jesus’ sake and hast adopted me as Thy child by faith in Him, so that I now dwell with Thee in Thy household, alive unto righteousness, enjoying all the blessings of redemption and justification, and lacking no truly good thing. O my God, this is nothing but the mercy which Thou hast shown me in Christ, my Savior, and of which I am altogether unworthy. Now when I behold another wretched one reclaimed by true contrition and childlike faith and received into Thy bosom, grant that I may not be forgetful of the grace on which alone I too subsist, that I may have no evil eye against any other penitent sinner. And when such dark thoughts assail me, create in me a clean heart, O God, that I, too, may rejoice with Thee and the holy angels over every brother who was dead and is alive again, who was lost and is found. Grant this, O most merciful God, for the sake of Jesus Christ, my Savior. Amen.
O the height of Jesus’ love, higher than the heavens above,
deeper than the depths of sea, lasting as eternity –
Love that found me – wondrous thought! – found me when I sought Him not.
Hymn 342, v.2 (TLH)