There are only two types of people in this whole world—those who are lost and those who are found. And between the two camps, the major difference is the word repentance— in its simplest form, repentance is having an utter awareness of one's lostness without Jesus.
It is through that awareness that a change of mind takes place about the carnage of sin. It is a new yielding towards God which results in a change of heart and a remolding of our lives into the image of His Son. And although being lost can take on any variety of forms from self-righteousness, worldliness, spiritual ignorance, etc.--there is only one seeking Savior whose mission is to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10).
I personally love reading through Luke chapter 15, because in it we see one parable that lends itself to three perfect pictures of God—the Son, the Holy Spirit, and the Father. Let me explain. In verses 4-7, we see a shepherd (the Son) seeking out and finding his lost sheep. In verses 8-10, we see a woman (the Spirit) salvaging her lost coin. And finally, in verses 11-32, we see the steadfast love of a father (the Father), who not only receives and restores his prodigal younger son, but he even graciously appeals to a prideful older son.
These passages of Scripture completely cover the ground of all humanity--whether one is the law-breaker (like the younger son), or the law-keeper (like the older son). Initially, both individuals are lost. However, our attention is quickly brought to the father's heart as he steadfastly pursues both his children's hearts. And to that end, it is clear how the Father’s love extends to both the law-breaker and the law-keeper. Both are equally sinners, and both equally need a Savior.
This is a story about repentance. And though it may be too late to reverse the consequences of your sinfulness, it is never too late to reverse your mind with repentance. Because when the younger son “came to himself” (Luke15:17), it was his first step to coming home--leaving behind sin--and being received and restored as a son.
Sadly, on the other side of this picture of restoration, we are introduced to the older brother's self-justification. He is seemingly an upright brother, but in the blink of an eye, he becomes downright bitter. He despises the fact that his father has "killed the fatted calf" and threw a festival. If truth be told, it appears the older brother would have preferred for this to be his younger brother’s funeral.
Yet in the midst of his own justification of "why" he is mad at his dad, he has absolutely no awareness of his own lostness because of self-righteousness. It is truly the saddest landscape in the Scriptures.
After Jesus finishes telling this parable, the audience (and us as the readers) are left with a choice to make. Do we repent and come home where the heart belongs (with God)? Or do we compare ourselves to others and think our heart was never in the wrong place to begin with? For all have sinned....yet it is only in Christ that we go from being lost to found.