The boss of a big company needed to call one of his employees about an urgent problem with the company’s main computer. He dialed the employee’s home telephone number and was greeted with a child’s whisper, “Hello?”
Feeling put out at the inconvenience of having to talk to a youngster, the boss asked, “Is your Daddy home?” “Yes,” whispered the small voice. “May I talk with him?” the man asked. To the surprise of the boss, the small voice whispered, “No.”
Wanting to talk with an adult, the boss asked, “Is your Mommy there?” “Yes,” came the answer. “May I talk with her?” Again, the small voice whispered, “No.”
Knowing that it was not likely that a young child would be left home alone, the boss decided he would just leave a message with the person who should be there watching over the child. “Is there anyone there besides you?” the boss asked the child. “Yes,” whispered the child, “a policeman.”
Wondering what a cop would be doing at his employee’s home, the boss asked,
“May I speak with the policeman?” “No, he is busy,” whispered the child. “Busy doing what?” asked the boss. “Talking to Daddy and Mommy and the Fireman,” came the whispered answer.
Growing concerned and even worried as he heard what sounded like a helicopter through the earpiece on the phone, the boss asked, “What is that noise?” “A hello-copper,” answered the whispering voice.
“What is going on there?” asked the boss, now alarmed. In an awed whispering voice, the child answered, “The search team just landed the hello-copper!”
Alarmed, concerned and more than just a little frustrated, the boss asked,
“Why are they there?” Still whispering, the young voice replied (along with a muffled giggle), “They are looking for me!”
This kid is playing hide-and-seek to the extreme. He seemed to be having fun with abusing his parents love. Maybe he is testing the love of his parents and see how much he matters to him.
In fact, two of the most frequently asked questions of human beings are “Is there is God?” and “If there’s a God, do I matter to Him?”
King David wrote in his psalm, “Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.” (Psalm 17:8). Our eyes are the most venerable part of our body. We tried everything to protect it. We blink and turn away when we encounter anything that could harm our eyes. King David wants God to value him as much as we value our eyes.
The moment you realize that you are the apple of God’s eyes, your perspective of life changes. It becomes much more meaningful and joyful when you know that you matter to God. If you go hiding, God will send the police to look for you, the fire fighters to rescue you, and the helicopters to hunt for you.
King David said in another Psalm:
can I go from your spirit?
Or where can I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
If I take the wings of the morning
and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me fast.” (Ps 139:7-10).
King David was a happy man. He was an artist, a poet, a musician, a shepherd, and a warrior. Even in his darkest moments, he was able to keep a positive attitude because he knows that he mattered to God. We can discover this by the Psalms he wrote. Even though some of his Psalms are laments about the pains of life, he always ended with hope and gratitude.
The entire Psalm 139 is worth reading over and over again and meditating on it over and over again. In fact, the entire Bible indicates that you matter to God unconditionally. If you get this, you will be a totally different person and you will live a much fruitful and joyful life.
This is a very important level of spiritual maturity to attain because, without it, you will encounter a whiny, angry, and grumpy life. This was the case with the Pharisees of Jesus time.
In today’s scripture lesson, it starts, “Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, ‘This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.’” (Luke 15:1-2).
Notice it says that the Pharisees and the scribes were “grumbling.” In fact, throughout the Bible they were often portraited as a bunch of whiny, angry, and grumpy old men. Some of them might not be that old, but the point being, despite their knowledge of the scripture and their godly living, they did not find joy and happiness.
They had power and prestige, but they had a miserable spirit. They prided themselves as law-keepers, but they despised the lawbreakers that they called sinners, which includes the tax collectors, the disadvantaged, the sick, and the lost. Now, they despised Jesus for treating the sinners with grace.
They hated Jesus for breaking the rabbinic dignity by associating with the sinners. Their tone is shown in the language they used, “This fellow.” It seems that Jesus’ name is not even worthy of mentioning. “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” What a despicable rabbi?
The negative attitude blinds them from seeing Jesus’ divinity. The Pharisees knew the Bible from cover to cover, but they failed to know the heart of God; far from the way their ancestor, King David, did. As a result, they failed to recognize Jesus as the Son of God.
Jesus said, “You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf.” (John 5:39). What it means is that the Bible is a testimony for Jesus, not an alchemy for salvation. If they read the Bible the right way, they would have recognized Jesus immediately. Instead, they despised him.
A happy person will end up entertain angles, but a grumpy person will miss the opportunity to see God. In fact, the Pharisees were God’s own people. They were supposed to be God’s inner circle. Jesus came to work with them to save the world, but they treated him as their enemy.
The Bible said, “He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him.” (Jn 1:11). Jesus heart was broken for that. Under the leadership of these grumpy old Pharisees, Jerusalem became a spiritual killing field. Jesus said,
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you, desolate.” (Mat 23:37-38).
Jesus wanted them to learn to be joyful. First, they must learn to expand their love to love the unlovable. Jesus told three parables to emphasize that.
Today’s passage covers the first two parables—the Parable of the Lost Sheep and the Parable of the Lost Coin. The third one is the Parable of the Lost Son, or better known as the Prodigal Son deserves an exclusive treatment because it’s the best.
Jesus said, “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.” (Luke 15:4-5).
You might have noticed that leaving the ninety-nine in the wilderness to find only one sounds like a crazy mathematic. What if the ninety-nine disappeared when he was looking for the one? However, the point here is not about the mathematic but that everyone counts. Even the lost one matters. It means God is crazy for you.
God doesn’t play the game of “Well, you win some, and you lose some. As long as, at the end, you win more than you lose. That’s all that matters.” In God’s kingdom, everyone counts. You matter to God.
You might think, “I am nobody in God’s kingdom. If I disappeared, who cares?” But God cares. Not only that God cares, but he is crazy about you. He would leave the ninety-nine behind to look for you if you disappeared. You matter to God.
It doesn’t matter how little you think about yourself; it doesn’t matter if you have the lowest self-esteem or the cheapest self-worth, you matter to God.
Then he said, “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.’ 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.” (Luke 15:6-7).
In God’s eyes, the lost that are found have a special value. Jesus explained this with the third parable—the Parable of the Lost Son. The reason God rejoices at finding the lost is because a repented sinner has a strong sense of gratitude.
Notice it says, “ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” The righteous are precious but they have not experience God’s grace and mercy. They lack a sense of gratitude. They tend to think they earned the righteousness. They might be physically there, but they are emotionally lost. There’s such a thing as the pride of righteousness.
Repentance means attitude adjustment. If you want to change your attitude, think about gratitude. Count the blessings. Develop a habit of counting the blessings every morning and count the blessings every night.
Then Jesus told the second parable—the Parable of the Lost Coin. He said,
“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 15:8-10).
Jesus was inclusive. He told as parable that men could appreciate most and another that the women could appreciate most. The ten silver coins are usually from a headdress of a married woman. It’s like the wedding ring of our time. It’s worth more than price of the coins. It’s a symbol of love and commitment. Losing a silver coin in that case is like losing your wedding ring, or part of the ring.
Every woman can appreciate the frustration of losing the wedding ring and the joy of finding it. In ancient time, it’s a disgrace or a bad luck to lose one of those silver coins. It’s a symbol of love and exchange of lifelong commitment between her and her husband.
Jesus told this parable to symbolize not only that you are precious, but also that it’s a sign of love. You matter to God so much. Losing you will leave God broken hearted. He will do everything he could and overturn the entire house to find you, just like the lady searching for the coin because you matter to God.
So from now on, don’t act as if you don’t matter. When you are grumpy and whiny like the Pharisees, it is when you forget that you matter. Count the blessings and remember that you matter to God, and your attitude will change.
Jesus told three parables in a roll to send this message to you. You are the apple of God’s eye. You matter to God!
May God bless you. Amen!