The Heart Towards Repentance - Luke 15:1-10

Leo’s Barbershop was the home for my first haircuts.  My dad would take my brothers and I to Leo’s on Saturday mornings.  Leo’s Barbershop was owned and operated by Leo, who was a fine gentleman and a wonderfully talented barber.  Leo worked alongside his longtime friend and partner, Hank, who was a fine gentleman and a wonderfully un-talented barber.  My brothers and I would often try to make excuses so we would not have to sit in Hank’s chair.  We would feign politeness in allowing the others to go first because of the fear of the “Hankcut”.  My mother was always able to recognize which one of us had sat in Hank’s chair. No one likes a bad haircut.  It really is an awful experience to receive a tragic haircut.  I still laugh at my good friend, Kurt Heath, response to his bad haircut which he grumbled about to the Facebook world on June 3rd, 2013,


I don't think its hyperbole to say that I just received the worst hair cut...of all time. I don't mean simply in terms of my own personal history. I mean in the history of the world. $16 doesn't get you what it used to...C'mon Super Cuts!!! And let me just add that I've had some very bad haircuts in my day. I once had a wonderful barber with moderate to severe hand tremors--enough to make you nervous. Though he wasn't very adept at dealing with the nuances of my double crown, he always gave sage advice. I can deal with a muffed doo as long as you give me some life wisdom...[1]

If you have ever had a bad haircut, you know how he feels.  Doesn’t it seem somehow acceptable to grumble about a bad haircut? It just feels right.  

            There are certain events in life where grumbling seems to be the most appropriate response: a bad haircut, food poisoning, or an empty box of Krispy Kreme donuts.  How we respond to life’s success and failures reveal a lot about our hearts. Our natural response reveals the truth about our heart.  We should pay close attention to our natural responses so that we can see how far our natural responses are from God’s desired responses for our hearts.  This morning we are going to ask one question in the hopes that our natural response would be revealed so that we can strive to conform our natural response to God’s desired response. The question we must ask and truthfully answer, “How does your heart respond towards repentance?”  How does heart respond to a sinner coming to Christ?

Does your heart respond towards repentance with Grumbling or with Gladness?

Luke 15:1-2,

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to him (Jesus). And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

Tax collectors and sinners were drawing near to Jesus.  Tax collectors were hated by the Jewish people.  They were looked at as traitors because they were working for the oppressive gentile Roman government to collect taxes. The Roman government set a specific rate, but allowed the tax collectors to increase the rate beyond what was needed.  Most tax collectors cheated their own people for their own gain.  They were hated by the people.  Sinners were regarded as living contrary to God’s law and therefore were viewed as forfeiting their relationship with God.[2] The bottom-line was that these were two groups of people were hated by Pharisees and the Scribes. It was clear that no self-respecting Pharisee would ever be seen with “those” people. 


            And to a degree, the Pharisees had a point.  These people were living in ways that God hated.  These tax collectors were extorted money from their own people for their own gain.  Biblicaly these were God’s enemies. 

Proverbs 20:23,

Unequal weights are an abomination to the Lord, and false scales are not good.

Psalm 5:4-6,
For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you. The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers. You destroy those who speak lies; the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.

God does not take sin casually.  The Lord hates all evildoers and abhors the deceitful man. The Pharisees and Scribes rightly understood that “these” people were sinners, but they did not understand they were sinners.  They did not understand their need for God’s grace. They did not understand their need for God’s forgiveness. They did not understand their sin so they grumbled saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” 

            A grumbler always is able to see the sin of others.  Grumblers see how others fall short of the glory of God. They see how others struggle with sin and how others have lived contrary to God’s Word.  A grumbler understands judgment.  They understand condemnation.  Do you grumble when sinners are drawing near to hear the Word of Christ? Are you grumbling over how people act during our service? Are you grumbling over their dress? Are you grumbling in seeing their sins while ignoring your own? 

Self-righteousness leads to grumbling and this grumbling leads you against Jesus Christ. Listen again to this self-righteous grumbling, “This man receives sinners and eats with them” (emphasis added).  Do you see how they are placing themselves against Jesus Christ? “This man, as opposed to us, receives sinners and eats with them.” This was the whole point of the Messiah.  Luke 5:31-32,



And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

Jesus came to call sinners. Therefore Jesus came to call all people to repentance, because there is none righteous, no not one.  Jesus came for those who were far from God that they might be saved.  The Lord says in Isaiah 49:6,

It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”

The Pharisees did not understand, so they grumbled. 

            Beloved, your grumbling is a dangerous thing for the mission of God.  God came to reach the lost. Listen to Philippians 2:14-15, 

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.

A person who does not grumble shines as a light in the world, but on the other hand a person who grumbles darkens and dulls the gospel proclamation. If this is true for the individual, how much more true is it for the church? If we are a people who do not grumble we shine as a beacon of hope in a crooked and twisted generation, but if are grumblers we dull the gospel to a condemned world.  Grumbling is unacceptable!!

Does your heart respond towards repentance with Grumbling or with Gladness?

 Jesus responds to their grumbling with 3 parables we know the parables are in response to their grumbling because of the purpose word of “so” to begin verse 3. Listen to how Jesus would answer our question this morning and how he would want you to answer it,

So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that 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 his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Jesus Christ responds to repentance with gladness.  Jesus shares two different parables to highlight similar themes: Being Lost, Being Pursued, Being Found, Being Glad.

Being Lost

            In order to understand the Christian message, we first have to understand what it means to be lost. The parables picture a lost sheep and a lost coin which both picture a sinner (v. 7; 10). After God made the world, He said it was very good.  His world was perfect and his relationship with man was perfect.  Adam and Eve rejected God’s good word and corrupted his good world with sin. Sin brought separation from God. We were put out of God’s place and were lost in a fallen world. Romans 5:12, “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” The consequence of sin is a physical death followed by eternal death with eternal punishment with unquenchable fire.  This is the reality of everyone without God which is why the Pharisees and Scribes grumbled at Jesus because they knew how God treated those who are lost apart separate from God’s favor.

Being Pursued

            God put us out of His place, the Garden, to be lost wandering in the world.  We were lost, but look at God’s pursuit of the lost.  Verse 4, “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it(emphasis added)?” And again in verse 8, “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it?” (emphasis added).  God pursues his sheep until He finds them.  Isaiah 53:6, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned –everyone—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Jesus Christ pursued his lost sheep until he found them in the cross. Our iniquity was laid upon Jesus Christ.  He pursued us through His perfect obedience so that He could die a perfect death in our place and to give us His perfect life on the basis of his resurrection from the day.  He pursued us. 

            It is a wonderful thing to be pursued.  During my senior year in High School, I was pursued by a number of colleges to play football.  They sent letters, made phone calls, and brought me to their campuses.  Their pursuit showed me that I was valuable to their program.  How much more does God’s pursuit show us how valuable we are to Him? We walked away from Him. We rejected Him. And yet, He pursued us. We should never feel unloved because God demonstrated his love for us that while we were yet sinners He died for us (Romans 5:8).  

Being Found

            In these two parables, both the coin and the sheep symbolize sinners.  God pursues us until we are found.  How do we know we are found by God? Sinners are found when they repent. Verses 7 and 10 have the same refrain “over one sinner who repents.”  This is how people are found. Repentance is a fundamental change in how we think. We change our mind about who God is in our life and our relation to Him.  We renounce all that we have and submit our lives to His will.  He rightly acknowledge Him as Lord, therefore we change our behavior. Beloved, repentance starts with a proper view of God.  Let us bring people to Jesus before we demand they change their behavior.  When people see Jesus as Lord and Savior, it is only then that they will change.  What is the response to repentance?

Being Glad  

            God loves to save sinners.  Verse 7, “Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” And verse 10, “Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”  Joy and gladness explode in heaven when sinners turn to God.  This should be our hearts.  If we do not have this joy, then we do not fully understand the gospel.  In repentance, people are transferred from the kingdom of darkness and condemnation, to the kingdom of the Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.  They are moved from being God’s enemies facing His wrath to being adopted as His sons and daughters by His Spirit.  God’s people should rejoice, because this is what has happened to us. Every time we see a sinner repent and turn to God should be a reminder of the gracious pursuit and rescue our God has given us from our sins. 

            Do you see how God wants to share this?  Verse 6, “And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.” And Verse 9, “And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, “Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ God says to us, “Rejoice with me. Celebrate Salvation. Clap your hands. Sing for Joy. Rejoice with me.” The Christian life should be a life of celebration. We celebrate salvation again and again and again.  It should never become routine. 

Does your heart respond towards repentance with Grumbling or with Gladness?

            It is clear in the text where in how God wants our hearts to respond. The real question, “is this our response?” I think if we are honest with ourselves, most of us probably fall somewhere in the middle.  We may not grumble, but we also may not rejoice as the angels in heaven rejoice. I think the average Christian lives with more indifference.  We are not against people being saved, but we also do not see the salvation of others with God’s gladness. If truly saw the salvation of others with God’s gladness, we would pursue sinners until they were found by God. Our inaction shows our indifference.  These two parables show us the heart of God towards sinners. He rejoices over the repentance of sinners and looks at us and says, “Rejoice with me.” We can rejoice with Him if we strive to follow after God’s heart for the lost?  Will we light our lamps and sweep the house and search diligently until they are found? Will we make our highest joy the joy of heavenly rejoicing over the repentance of sinners?

            God has given us the opportunity today to realign our hearts with Him in the Lord’s Supper.  The Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” We rejoice today that this man, Jesus Christ, still receives sinners and eats with them.  The Lord’s Supper is an invitation for sinners to commune with God through His Son Jesus Christ.  As we approach the Lord’s Table, we remember how we were lost and how God pursued us.  1 Peter 2:24-25,

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

We remember how Jesus’ body was broken with our sins. We remember how we were straying like sheep and have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls.  We come to this Table proclaiming the Lord’s death on our behalf until his return and we recommit our lives to Him in dying to sin and living for righteousness and for the repentance of sinners. 

As we approach the table, we must examine ourselves.  1 Corinthians 11:28-29, “Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.” As we prepare the Table, examine your life and if necessary ask for the Lord’s forgiveness.  He delights and rejoices over any sinner who repents



[2] Bock, D. L. (1996). Luke: 9:51–24:53 (Vol. 2). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic. Commentary 15:1

Steven Brazzell

Charlotte, NC