Ready to Rejoice Upon Children’s Return Home
Posted in Parenting/Marriage
Scripture: “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous persons who do not need to repent.” – Matthew 15: 7
There is no greater joy for me than seeing my children walk toward me after a long time away, or hearing their heart-exposed confession, “I’ve missed you.” As a new “empty nester,” I’m counting down the days until my three children return home for a long Thanksgiving break. In every parent’s heart, there’s a longing to know that our children are ok no matter what age they are… not only physically, but also mentally and spiritually.
This morning, as I sit with my Bible open to the three parables of the lost, I wonder: If I as a human parent want nothing more than to see my children, first-hand, growing in a positive direction, how much more does our Father in Heaven want the same for us?
After delivering his Sermon on the Mount and performing miracles, Jesus’s popularity among people of all types was multiplying day by day. Matthew’s chapter 15 opens by describing the characters on the scene: “Now the tax collectors and ‘sinners’ were all gathering around to hear Him. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, ‘This Man welcomes sinners and eats with them’” (v. 1). Jesus was struck by the “them versus us” pious attitude of the religious leaders, who themselves were just as much sinners as anyone else. In response, Jesus told three parables of “The Lost Sheep,” “The Lost Coin,” and “The Lost Son.”
In each story, only one of multiple sheep, coins or sons was missing, wandering, lost. Yet, because every person has high value to God, his examples emphasize one’s deep longing for the lost to return until all are back in his fold or under his roof. And upon each return, there was rejoicing in grand style!
In this triune lesson, Jesus also draws a stark comparison between the lost sinners who acknowledge their sinfulness and the “righteous” people who are just as sinful and lost but don’t acknowledge their sinfulness and need for repentance. He says at the conclusion of “The Lost Sheep” parable, “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous persons who do not need to repent” (Matthew 15: 7).
Jesus’s message rings true for us today: We are all sinners who experience times of straying. We ALL experience the need to return to God’s presence.
And when we acknowledge our sinfulness, our turning from God, we must hang our heads low like the “Prodigal Son,” admit in prayer to our Father, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against You. I am no longer worthy to be called Your son” (v. 21). Then, like the lost son’s father whose arms opened wide, our Father too will rejoice upon our return. No matter what we’ve done or where we’ve gone, our Father will always welcome us back home.
Prayer: Oh Heavenly Father, forgive me for my times of straying from prayer, opening my Bible or attending Sunday Worship. You have given me so much, and yet I forget to even say thanks. I forget and walk my own way, rather than in your light. Forgive me, Lord, and welcome me back into your loving embrace. As I long for my own children to return home, I know you want me to return. And as I am ready to rejoice upon my children’s return over Thanksgiving break, I know you too will rejoice when you see me seeking you once again. Amen.
Submitted by Caroline C. Bennett