The Lost Sheep
And all the publicans and sinners were near to Him to hear Him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This Man accepts sinners, and eats with them. And He said to them this parable, saying, What man of you, having a hundred sheep and having lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say to you that likewise there shall be joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, more than over ninety-nine just people who have no need of repentance.
Laying it on His shoulders
AC 9836:6. That “to put upon the shoulders and carry” is to preserve in a state of good and truth forever with all exertion and power....From this it is that the Lord, who spoke by correspondences, said of the lost sheep when it was found, that “he laid it on his shoulder rejoicing” (Luke 15:5); “the sheep that was lost and was found” is the good with the man who repents.
Joy in heaven over one sinner who repents
AC 5992:3. Especially do the angels call forth the goods and truths that are with a man, and set them in opposition to the evils and falsities which the evil spirits excite. Thus the man is in the midst, and does not perceive either the evil or the good; and being in the midst, he is in freedom to turn himself either to the one or to the other. By such means angels from the Lord lead and protect a man, and this every moment, and every moment of a moment; for if the angels were to intermit their care for a single moment, the man would be precipitated into evil from which he could never afterward be brought out. These things the angels do from the love they have from the Lord, for they perceive nothing more delightful and happy than to remove evils from a man, and lead him to heaven. That this is a joy to them, see Luke 15:7. Scarcely any man believes that the Lord takes such care of a man, and this continually from the first thread of his life to the last of it, and afterward to eternity.
TCR 528. Actual repentance is examining oneself, recognizing and acknowledging one’s sins, praying to the lord, and beginning a new life. That man ought by all means to repent, and that his salvation depends on it, is evident from many passages and plain sayings of the Lord in the Word, from among which the following shall at present be mentioned:
John preached the baptism of repentance, and said, Bring forth fruits worthy of repentance (Luke 3:3, 8; Mark 1:4). Jesus began to preach and to say, Repent (Matt. 4:17). And He said, Because the kingdom of God is at hand, Repent ye (Mark 1:14, 15). Again: Unless you repent, you shall all perish (Luke 13:5). Jesus commanded His disciples, that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations (Luke 24:47; Mark 6:12).
Therefore Peter preached repentance and baptism in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). And he also said: Repent ye and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out (Acts 3:19). Paul preached that they should all everywhere repent (Acts 18:30). Paul also declared in Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the country of Judea, and to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works worthy of repentance (Acts 26:20). Again, he testified both to Jews and to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21).
The Lord said to the church at Ephesus: I have against thee, that thou hast left thy first charity; repent, but if not, I will move thy lampstand out of its place, except thou repent (Rev. 2:4, 5). To the church at Pergamos: I know thy works, repent (Rev. 2:13, 16). To the church at Thyatira: I will cast her into great affliction, unless they repent of their works (Rev. 2:19, 22, 23). To the church of the Laodiceans: I know thy works, be zealous, and repent (Rev. 3:15, 19).
There is joy in heaven over one sinner who repents (Luke 15:7).
Questions and Comments
- When we think of the Lord as a shepherd, putting the lost sheep on His shoulders, we can think of what it says in the Arcana in 9836:6, “That ‘to put upon the shoulders and carry’ denotes to preserve in a state of good and truth forever with all exertion and power.” Does this give us more confidence in the Lord’s power to help us repent?
- When we are working on repentance ourselves, perhaps we can imagine the Lord putting us on His shoulders and carrying us out of a bad habit and into a new way of living.
- AC 5992:3 is an amazing passage about what angels constantly do for us. How can this knowledge help us?
- Why does it make angels so happy when we repent?