Surprised By Joy
Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” 3 So he told them this parable: 4 “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? 5 When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. 8 “Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? 9 When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” – Luke 15:1-10
The great writer, C. S. Lewis, once wrote an autobiographical book entitled “Surprised By Joy”. It was a reflection on how he moved from being an atheist to becoming theist and then to becoming Christian. The title reflects the underlying joy he felt in his faith. One could say the joy he felt in being found.
In Luke 15 there is a series of three stories or parables. The first story is about a shepherd who loses a sheep and leaves ninety-nine other sheep to find the one sheep. When he finds the one sheep, he rejoices and invites others to rejoice with him.
The second story is similar, the difference being a woman who loses one of her ten coins. When she finds the lost coin, she celebrates the find and invites her friends to celebrate with her.
These two parables are about the joy and celebration at the finding of the lost.
The third story is about two sons. The younger son demands his part of the inheritance from his father. His father gives him the inheritance and the younger son leaves home. The younger son wastes his money until he has none. He returns home only to find his father waiting for him. Not only is his father waiting for him but the father runs to meet him with great joy at his younger son’s return. The father celebrates the return by ordering a great feast.
Again, there is a celebration at the return of the lost.
Then the older son comes into the picture. He will not come inside to celebrate with the others. Frankly, he is livid that there is any celebration at all. The father invites the older son to come in to celebrate. However, the story ends, and the reader is left without resolution. Does the older son go inside to celebrate the return, or does he stay outside? No answer is given.
The three stories are about celebration and joy. Will we celebrate the finding of the lost? Will we find joy that we are found?
Do you have joy in your life? If not, what prevents that joy?
Peace Lutheran Church
Mill Valley, California