November 26, 2010

The Parable of the Deleted File

Luke 15:8-10

There once was a man who had lost all of his files when a virus wiped everything from his computer system. Suddenly he realized that an important file – a rare picture he had scanned - had been lost. This precious file preserved an old, fading and cracked black-and-white picture of his family. There was no other copy or negative. The original had decomposed beyond recognition. So, it was with urgency and desperation that he checked the various files, data-bases, directories, hard drive and discs for the lost file. When he failed to find the file, he sent an email to his family members to see if anyone had a copy of the photo. No one had a duplicate. In a final attempt to recover the lost file, he spent hundreds of dollars to purchase an expensive recovery software program to search the hard drive for the lost file. He downloaded and installed the program on the computer and watched the blank screen with his fingers crossed. The cursor blinked for what seemed an eternity and then the file popped onto the screen. With a shout of joy, the man saved the file in multiple discs and afterwards called his family to share the good news.

This parable mirrors much of the sentiment of the woman who lost her silver coin, seeking diligently for it until she found it (Luke 15:8-10). This effort represents the various means and methods God uses to bring lost souls home and the Savior's joy on their return to Him. The parable reveals to us the pains which God takes in His search. The light is brought in. Things are moved. All other work is ceased. The house is swept until the piece is found. And so, it is His love that seeks and doesn’t quit until what is lost is found.

Further on in the same chapter, Jesus recounts the parable of the prodigal son who traded in his inheritance for riotous living. The nearer the repentant son drew to his father’s house, the heavier his heart became at the thought of seeing his father again. I imagine that the son thought about what he would say to his father, and how he would say it. The son might have wondered about his father’s reaction. How angry would his father's anger be? Would he receive him or reject him? How would the son respond? A dread might have burdened his heart about being forsaken by his father. But the father anticipates his coming, and moves towards him, not based on his son's actions, but according to his own heart as a father. He is on his son's neck even before the son can open his mouth, even before the son has had time to say, "Make me as one of thy hired servants." This is the measure of God’s joy towards us when we come to Him in repentance.

Where there is repentance, there is a turning away from sin. Why? When God’s grace attracts us, one moves towards God and away from sin (John 8:3-11).

Indeed, Lamentations 1:20 states, " ‘See, O Lord, how distressed I am! I am in torment within, and in my heart I am disturbed, for I have been most rebellious.’ ”

And Psalm 31:10 says, “My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak.”

And so, in our misery, we are received by God’s love and we are clothed with Christ’s blood to enter the house. We do not bring the robe; God supplies us with it. This is heaven's best robe. It is an entirely new thing. And the angels know this because they share in God’s joy. This is heaven’s attitude: Rejoicing. The word rejoice comes from the Hebrew word, suncairw, which is an old and common verb for mutual joy, which demands fellowship. In other words, it is an uncontainable joy that overflows so much so that others can’t help but share in the overwhelming gladness.

What an expression of God’s love! How painfully and wonderfully clear does Jesus make it known to us by His work at the Cross!

The recovery of even one such outcast is watched with interest in heaven and hailed with joy. The great Shepherd is going after His lost sheep. The Owner is searching diligently for the lost silver coin. The Restorer is extricating the family picture from the clutches of oblivion. The lost one is being brought back home with a joy whose cup overruns with all that heaven will allow. Won’t you come to Christ and join His family? He hasn’t given up the search for you. Won’t you come home now?

No comments: