Penitence means to express such remorse and regret for one’s actions and to change these life actions. Penitence is a moment by moment occurrence. Faith guides us to repentance; therefore, we appropriate God’s Grace from the cross through our Penitence.
In Luke 15:1, the Tax Collectors and “sinners” had gathered to hear Jesus speak. The Apostle Matthew was a Tax Collector before he repented his sins and became an Apostle. We are all “sinners”; but each of us, in our own minds, has some level of righteousness or holiness. Also, each of us, in our own minds, has some personal perception of what “sin” is. Therefore, it is easy for us to call someone else a “sinner” based on our personal perception of “sin” – we say to ourselves: “I am sure glad that I don’t live like Joe!”. We are all sinners; but as followers of Jesus, our sins are forgiven. Like many of those in our churches today, the Church Leaders in Luke 15:2 did not think that it was good for Jesus to be associated with and speak to sinners: “And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, ‘This man receives sinners and eats with them.’”. However, Jesus welcomes sinners into His presence. Are churches today, like Jesus, welcoming sinners; or have churches become “holy huddles”? If churches miss reaching out to those that are lost to Jesus, they are missing their purpose.
In Luke 15:3-32, Jesus shares three parables to illustrate the heart of God: 1) The Parable of the Lost Sheep – one sheep’s loss may mean no profit to the shepherd; therefore each sheep is valuable just as one “sinner” is valuable to God, and efforts must be made, like with the one lost sheep, to recover the “sinner” through their Penitence, which creates joy in heaven; 2) The Parable of the Lost Coin – the women had ten silver coins with each representing great value to her; therefore, the listeners to Jesus understood both the great effort expended to recover the one lost coin and the great joy in its recovery, just as the effort and joy related to the recovery and repentance of just one penitent “sinner”; and 3) The Parable of the Prodigal Son – the youngest son demands all of his inheritance, ahead of schedule, from his father, and then he goes away and squanders the inheritance in “sin”, but when the son awakens to his “sin” he repents and returns to his father, who celebrates, like God, the return of a “sinner” son. The Parable of the Prodigal Son, in Luke 15:32, illustrates the heart of God for Penitent “sinners”: “It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.”.
God is joyful when a “sinner” is Penitent because God has created us to have a personal relationship with Him, but God cannot abide with unrepentant “sinners”. It imperative that church communities not only lead Penitent lives themselves, but the church communities must focus on the recovery of the “lost sheep” (“sinners”). We must commune with God and repent of our own sins just as we become active in our church to lead its focus on bringing joy to God through the recovery of a “lost sheep”.
Today’s Affirmation: Today, I affirm that because of what God has done for me in His Son, Jesus, I AM A CHILD OF GOD. Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His Name, He gave the right to become children of God -- children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God. (John 1:12f).
Scripture Reference (ESV): Romans 2:9; Luke 15:1-32; Matthew 28:18-20.