Monday, March 7
Week Five of 42 Days through Good News according to Luke
Luke 15 —Parables of Lost Sheep, Coin & Son
1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
8 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’
28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
31 “ ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ “
Points of Interest:
- (v.2) “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them”— Do you get the feeling that the Pharisees and teachers are a broken record? Their tune hasn’t really changed since their earliest interactions with Jesus. Over and over again, they comment on the fact that He is eating with sinners and doing what’s unlawful on the Sabbath, even though it’s exactly what He’s been doing all along.
- (v.5) “he joyfully puts it on his shoulders”—the shepherd isn’t angry or annoyed at the lost sheep. He doesn’t scold it. He’s simply glad that the sheep is safe and has been found.
- (v.12) “Father, give me my share of the estate”—inheritances usually don’t come until after your parents are dead, but this son wants to hurry up the process. He’s essentially saying, ‘Look, Dad, can we go ahead and act as if you were already dead?’ Amazingly, his father agrees to his request.
- (v.24) “But the father said . . . this son of mine was dead and is alive again”—the son’s speech was supposed to end with, “make me like one of your hired servants,” but before he can finish, his father interrupts to call him his son.
- (v.28) “refused to go in”—in these three stories (the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost child), Jesus establishes a clear pattern: 1) something valuable is lost; 2) the lost thing is found; 3) the finder celebrates;
4) the finder invites friends and neighbors into the celebration. Here the pattern is broken. We determined earlier that, because they aren’t celebrating with Jesus, the Pharisees and teachers aren’t Jesus’ friends. Now, we see who they are: they are the angry older child.
- (v.29) “you never gave me even a young goat”— As far as the father knew, he was giving his older child the best: relationship with him, and the chance to work together to build up the older child’s inheritance. He thought it’s what his child wanted too, but all along the child was secretly bitter and resentful. It’s the same thing with the Pharisees and God’s law. By muttering about Jesus’ relationship with the tax collectors and sinners, they’re essentially saying, “Look, we’ve been following God’s law all along. When are we going to get anything out of it?” The Pharisees and teachers, in theory at least, always had the better life within their grasp; but because they had the mentality of slaves rather than of children, they missed out too.
- (v.31) “But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead”—The big question, left hanging at the end of the story, is: will the older son join the party? Will he join the family, or remain a slave? It’s up to the Pharisees—and to any of us who identify with the older brother—to decide how the story will end.
Taking it home:
- For you: Who are your “tax collectors”? Who is it, in your heart of hearts, you think is hopeless—or, at least, that they should have to do a lot of proving how sorry they are before God should welcome them. All God wants is for them to be safe at home with Him. Ask God to rescue you from muttering, from envy, and from suspicion. Pray that He would give you what you need to step into the party.
- For your Six: Pray that your Six would increase in their knowledge that they are valuable to God and He misses them.
- For our church/ILTJ: Pray for the worldwide church today. Pray that churches in every country of the world would be filled with the joy of being God’s children. Ask God to protect and give special moments of joy to churches experiencing persecution.
- To Talk About: Tax collectors and sinners came to Jesus and He welcomed them and ate with them. Don’t you love that Jesus welcomed people who didn’t know God and had dinner with them. It’s so great how He showed the people He loved them by simply welcoming them to hang out with Him and eating together. Sweet conversations can happen during meals.
- To Do: Is there someone you can just invite over for a meal this week – maybe a neighbor, classmate or friend? Enjoy getting to know someone new and see where Jesus takes the conversation and a possible new friendship. Maybe even someone you could invite to Easter Services at Journey this year? It’s not too early to invest in new relationships and see what Jesus can do with them.