His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found! (NLT)
If we are truly going to celebrate being found, we first must recognise just how lost we have been. These words conclude the story of the lost son, though in fact each son was lost in his own way. The younger one got lost in wild living in the pigsties of the far country. The older one got lost in his self satisfied pride.
The joy of what we call salvation is most real for those who most realise just how much they need saving. While we are all rightly termed “rebels” against the rule of Jesus over our lives, some are rather respectable rebels. Nurtured in Christian homes, educated in Christian schools, immersed in Christian groups and pursuing overtly Christian career paths, some might take grace for granted.
Salvation is certainly an article of genuine belief, and grace is certainly grasped to some degree. But those who have been utterly down and out and in a worldly sense beyond hope, they are the ones who might more readily appreciate just how wonderful it is to find mercy and hope in Jesus.
And one more thing: the story concludes with celebration. If we want to know God’s response to our repentance, we see it here. He throws a party.