Luke 15 is a famous chapter, it is best understood in the context of the previous chapters of the book of Luke, and the rest of scripture. This is Biblical Theology: Scripture understood in whole in order to get the complete picture of God and us.
Three stories: all illustrations of what Jesus has been teaching in previous chapters: The Lost Sheep, The Lost Coin and The Lost Child. In all three we see the heart of God for the lost AND for those who are His. The first two are more about God than us…but we can pull application. The third story is the application treasure trove: we can be as many as three characters!
Christ uses different examples to display His heart for those who are apart from Him. Jesus was addressing the Jewish leaders view of salvation being ‘Merit Based’. They believed they were earning God’s favor while others would not and could not be acceptable to God.
Jesus reveals God’s heart of compassion for the lost, His love should give us hope! He dosen’t give up on lost people, He rejoices over redeeming what is lost… so do ‘His Surrendered Disciples’! God (in coming as Jesus Christ) seeks & redeems what appear to be lost causes. Scripture consistently reveals God’s divine patience, mercy & grace. These three stories give us a great picture of God’s Heart, and it gives us hope!
1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
- The Biblical Gospel (Christ’s Teachings) draws people from all walks of life
- Religious Legalists like to decide who should get God’s favor
- They want to discredit Christ so they can control (beware a judgmental spirit)
3 So he told them this parable: 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? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 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.’ 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.
- Common sense to go after a sheep that foolishly wanders away
- Leaving the 99 sheep ‘in the open country’ is not being ‘reckless’ (Done Often)
- He finds it brings it home & shares the joy with ‘His People’
- The 99 are already found, & will stay found: John 10 ‘The Good Shepherd’
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” ~ Jesus @ John 10:28-29
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? 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.’ 10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
- The woman & shepherd are human expressions of the image of God
- One coin may not seem like a bog deal…
- She still had 90% of her wealth, shouldn’t 10% be considered acceptable loss?
- One person entering the Kingdom is important to God, and His friends…
11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living.
- The whole inheritance thing is important
- What was given was not accepted, rather he demanded ‘His Way’ of it
- He sees the Father as a source of things rather than ‘The Thing’
- The ‘Prosperity Gospel’ is not Biblical Theology
- When dishonor the Father you will not be a good steward of what he gives you
- God will let us have things that are not best for us so that we can learn!
14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.
- Sin can be enjoyable for a time…
- Doing life ‘His Way’ brings him to the end of himself
17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’
- He didn’t know the Father well or he would never have left
- But he knew enough to try to go back… hat in hand, humbled by reality
- Any place in the fathers house would do…he is ready to give up his rights
20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
- Not just ‘went home’…he went to his father
- The father was ever watchful for his child to return
- He welcomes the lost child without reservation or judgement or condemnation
- This is BEFORE the son humbles himself…God’s compassion is not reactive!
- Repentance is admitting the wrong and giving up your rights
22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
- The Father restores the lost child to it’s previous place (He didn’t keep score)
- The celebration is to be shared by all of The Father’s People
25 “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’
- The older son, dutiful and loyal sees the passionate celebration and is curious
- When given the Good News, you would think he would react like The Father
28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’
- The older son’s reaction is rooted in the same thinking as the Pharisees
- He thinks he has earned something that was always given to him
- He appeals to The Father to be ‘Just’… based on what he thinks is just
- He basically says: ‘My Brother dosen’t deserve to be forgiven!’
31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”
- The Father tells the older son: ‘You have always had what matters most: ME!’
- I and my household will celebrate my grace because they know my grace
Jesus tells this story directly to The Pharisees & Scribes (Members of the Sanhedrin)
to rebuke them for how they view people who don’t know God as unredeemable.
God keeps his flock in safety (Eternally) and goes after the one WE might write off.
God doesn’t work in percentages, He works in individuals. Each has particular value.
God will allow you to blow up your life with choices that dishonor Him, there is no ‘forced grace’.
God will not give up on you, you can always go back to Him!
God’s people rejoice with Him when Biblical Salvation occurs in anyone & everyone!
Religious authorities want salvation to be earned so they can control it. (They think)
You are not the shepherd, woman or father; what can you understand about God from them?
Lost sheep: If you wandered off without realizing it, do you know your Father will come for you? 99 sheep: Do you stay where your Father puts you, spiritually, embracing Christ’s Discipleship? Shepherd’s Friends: Do rejoice with God & Heaven for the salvation of any who wandered off?
Lost Coin: You didn’t actively ‘get lost’… Can you trust God is relentless looking 4 U? Other Coins: How can you make sure you don’t take eternity with God for granted? Woman’s Friends: Do you rejoice with God & Heaven for the saving of anyone, no matter who?
Lost Son: If willful, knowing rebellion has you far from God; do you trust you can return? Father’s Household: Will you rejoice with God & Heaven for the salvation of one who left you? Older Brother / Pharisees: Do you think some deserve eternity and some don’t?