Luke 15:4-7  “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them.  Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?  And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home.  Then he calls his friends and neighbours together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’  I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

We need to understand Jesus’ statement here in the same sense as those recorded in Mark 2:17 (… Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”) and Luke 7:47 (“Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven – for she loved much.  But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”).

God’s whole Plan of Creation-Fall-Redemption-Restoration is a ‘package deal’.  God’s expression of his amazing love through the suffering and death of his one and only Son for helpless sinners is at the very heart of this Plan, and HAS BEEN for ALL eternity.   This is why John was inspired to describe the Risen Jesus as “the Lamb that was SLAIN FROM THE CREATION OF THE WORLD.” (Revelation 13:8; cf 17:8).  Yes, God tells us in his Word that the substitutionary death of Jesus was the PRIME REASON he created US, with a world for us to live in and to express our ‘likeness’ to him, in a Universe in which to display his glory!

Therefore, the thing that gives God the greatest JOY, and in fact that causes all of heaven to rejoice with him, is when a lost sinner realises his desperate need of the Saviour.  More than that, it is when this rescued sinner realises that the Good Shepherd TOOK THE INITIATIVE and searched until he found him because he had no strength or ability in himself to contribute anything to his own salvation.

It is good to remember that Jesus was telling this parable (and the other quotes above) to Jewish religious leaders whose biggest fault was their belief in their own goodness, which led to their failure to grasp the very heart of God’s ETERNAL Plan.  Let us not make the same mistake and so MISS OUT on God’s amazing saving grace and all the rejoicing in heaven that goes with it.  “Jesus sought me when a stranger wandering from the fold of God; he, to rescue me from danger, interposed his precious blood. … Lord, my joy, my consolation, all my days to you belong; as your grace is my salvation, so your praise shall be my song.” (Robert Robinson).