15 September 2013

Luke 15:1-10

“Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance.” (v. 7)


Whenever I have been asked to speak about leadership, the ensuing discussions have invariably produced strong emotion. Most of us have 'views' on what leadership should, or should not, involve; often depending on the modelling that we have experienced.  Many people tell me that what the Church needs in the 21st century is strong leadership, but disagree about whether such human leadership is embodied in a group of people conferring and coming to a mind, or the wisdom expected from an individual. I suspect that most people are happy with different kinds of leadership as long as the views expressed match their own!

The passages this week look at different aspects of leadership as demonstrated by Jesus , who was deliberately chosen for the task of reconciling the world to its creator. As Colossians 1:19 says, "… and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross". Today's passage is from Luke's Gospel, and a chapter that teaches about God's love for those considered lost. In the big story of bringing the world back to God, individuals like you and me actually matter; yes, here's the mind-boggling truth, we matter to God who created the entire universe. How do we begin to understand the enormity of love that reaches out personally to us as individuals, even as we comprehend more and more about the vastness of the worlds around us?

Luke 15:1-10 sets the context for the mission of Jesus as reconciler. The self-righteous Pharisees and Scribes sneer and grumble at this popular new rabbi: what kind of leadership is this, to welcome and eat with "sinners" (v. 2)? How utterly unrespectable! Can't take this new leader seriously, except that lots of ordinary people seem to be attracted to his teaching. So what's the punchline, what is Jesus actually trying to say? It's about rejoicing over a lost sheep, or a precious coin; two stories about that which seemed lost and gone, has in fact been safely found. It's about sinners needing to repent.

What Jesus goes on to say in both verses 7 and 10 is just how much rejoicing there will be in heaven. "There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance". And again in verse 10: "There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents". The task assigned to Jesus is a divine task, a God-given task of reconciliation, a huge task of bringing the world back to God - and it begins with the response of individuals who are drawn back into the orbit of God's love.

In Jesus we have a leader who models love for all people.

To Ponder

  • What characteristics do you look for in a leader?
  • Most people are in leadership roles at different points in their lives, eg family, work, recreational pursuits, church. How do you model love in these different situations?

Bible notes author

Michael King

Michael King is a Methodist local preacher. From 2000-2011, he was leader of the Methodist Church's World Church Relationships team, and was the vice-president of the Methodist Conference in 2012/2013.