Text: Luke 15
Event(s): The parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son
Luke 15:2 “This Man receives…and eats with” What the religious meant as a criticism was actually a prophetic declaration of one of the most beautiful things about Jesus. To receive people meant that He welcomed them. And not just that He made room when they arrived, but much like when we are invited to the house of a dear friend, and we can sense that they’ve been anticipating our arrival, this is how Jesus made the “sinners and tax collectors” feel. To eat with them, during this day’s culture, was a privilege that was only shared with closest friends, family and honored guests (such as one’s superiors). It was even believed in Eastern culture, that a mystical union took place between those who shared a meal. I just love how Jesus’ actions in spending time with sinners always transcended the culture.
Luke 15:12 “Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.” It was customary that 1/3 of the inheritance would go to the younger brother and 2/3 would go to the older. However normally, the inheritance was not passed on to the heirs until the father had died. So to request this while the father was still living was tantamount to saying he wish that his father would just “hurry up and die.” We often look at the events that followed as indicators of when this son began to decline, but with this demand he makes, we see the decay in his heart had already begun. The father in this parable, of course corresponds to our Heavenly Father and illustrates God’s willingness to permit each person to go his or her own way. Herein lies the pain we often experience when we see loved ones exercising their free will.
“Here’s an important part of the wonder of our humanity: Forced love is no love at all.” -WM Paul Young, author
Luke 15:22 “the robe, the ring and the sandals” The father graced his son with symbols of honor, authority, and freedom. The robe covered him, the ring signified his restored authority and the sandals, in a culture where only slaves went barefooted, were a mark of his freedom.
Luke 15:24 “this my son was dead” The word “dead” here is the Greek word, “nekros” which means destitute of a life that recognizes and is devoted to God; destitute of force or power; inoperative. I love how pastor and theologian Warren Wiersbe points out the parallels between the prodigal coming to his father and the sinner coming to God through Christ: “The prodigal was lost (v. 24); Jesus said, “I am the way.” The prodigal was ignorant (v. 17); Jesus said, “I am the truth.” The prodigal was dead (v. 24); Jesus said, “I am the life.”
Today’s Takeaway: The parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son provide layers of understanding for the same point: God proactively and passionately searches for those who are lost. And all of heaven rejoices when even just one comes to repentance. Again, what is repentance? It is sorrow for sin, confession that the offense has been committed against a holy God, and a change of heart that manifests itself in change of action. And whether one is lost through foolishness (as in the case of the sheep), or through carelessness (as with the coin), or even through voluntary willfulness (as with the son), the grace and love of God seeks, forgives and responds in the same way: Restoration. Let us have the same heart, diligence and attitude.
Additional (optional) reading: Deuteronomy 21:17, 2 Chronicles 7:14, Acts 2:38-41