Friday, March 1, 2013

Luke 15 - Lost and Found Joy

LINK: Luke 15

BACKGROUND


Jesus had "not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance" (Luke 5:32) and to "seek and save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10). So He told these three parables in response to their grumbling about Him receiving and eating with sinners. 


All three of these parables speak of something being lost and then found. He wanted to make clear to the religious leaders that some who they considered to be out of kingdom would be in! The message is the same for all three: God welcomes and forgives those who repent! The Pharisees had no loving concern for and readiness to receive lost sinners who repented. 


In the first two parables, the lost are sought out and found, and there is great joy. In the last one, the lost soul returns in true repentance, and the Father RUNS to meet him! What a beautiful picture for what salvation is all about: God seeks us out, but we must repent too. With that repentance, the
) on
Father runs to us and accepts us with open arms and great joy! So beautiful!

Jesus tells the parable of the . . .



A photo posted by Carol Weaver (@carolfoasia) on
159. Lost sheep: Luke 15:1-7

We are all lost sheep (including the Pharisees), and Jesus is the Good Shepherd who seeks us out and finds us. Remember that, chronologically, Jesus had just proclaimed that He was the Good Shepherd (Event #151, John 10). Let that entry remind you how dumb sheep are! "All of us like sheep have gone astray. Each of us has turned to His own way, but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him" (Isaiah 53:6). Jesus speaks to the men in the crowd here. 


160. Lost coin: Luke 15:8-10


We are like the lost coin precious and valuable to God. The coin was equivalent to one day's wages, but even more interesting is what that coin symbolized in that culture. Like the symbolism behind our modern day wedding ring, a Jewish girl wore a headband of ten silver coins to indicate she was a wife.  Losing one of those coins would have been devastating! I love how Jesus spoke to the women here. The woman lit a lamp and search for her coin just as God searches out to "seek and save that which was lost (Luke 19:10). We are that valuable. 


161. Lost son: Luke 15:11-32


The last parable is often called "The Parable of the Prodigal (Wasteful) Son." It emphasizes the eagerness of God to forgive a repentant sinner and RUN to His child and have a party for him! God is gracious and patient with us "not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). Mercy in action!


Here the ring is the sign of sonship, and  the best robe was given to him as a sign that he had been fully accepted back into the family (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:5; Genesis 41:42; Isaiah 61:10; 2 Corinthians 5:21).


The brother's story is the story within the parable. He was faithful to the Father from beginning to end and never wavered in his devotion. All commentators believe this is directed toward the religious leaders who were faithful to the Law but had no compassion for lost sinners and resented the fact that they would be accepted into God's kingdom. Their sin was self-righteousness, and they were just as lost as the prodigal son, but they did not know it. 


REFLECTION


As the youngest child in our family, I was the "good girl" behind two "bad boy" older brothers! I used to always get comments like, "You are not at all like your brothers" from teachers in my high school. Apparently, any way was up after having them!  


When one of those "bad boy" brothers came back from his wayward ways, I was overjoyed! That's why I cannot relate with the older brother in this story (maybe because I am a younger sister).


One day, shortly after my brother came to the Lord, we were listening to the song "In a Little While We'll Be with the Father," and he turned to me and said, "Did you pray for me all those years I was a lost soul?"  I burst into tears. He had no idea how much I longed to see him come to the Father. He came back and is still back, and I still feel like doing a happy dance. Kill that fat calf! Let's have a party!!!


I suppose it was pride, jealousy, and self-righteousness with the older brother (and the Pharisees), and it also might have to do with the fact that he was the older brother. There had always been this strange competition thing going on between my two brothers that I could never identify with. The religious leaders were like the "older brothers" to the Jewish family. So, there was much pride and stubbornness there. I'm still thinking about that as I write this. 


Sadly, my oldest brother never came back from his wayward ways. :( He died all alone in his home with alcohol bottles strewn everywhere. The last time I had talked to him, we talked about God, and he was still into "debate mode" as to whether God really existed or not. He did not want a "crutch" as he put it. He was not even sure he had a problem. Obviously he did, and now it is too late.

My oldest brother (left) passed away in 2008 after a
long battle with alcoholism. My other brother (right)
has been sober since 2006.

I prayed for my oldest brother for years and years and years, just as I had my other brother who came back (or maybe he had never been there in the first place since we pretty much grew up with NO input from our parents about God, really). Ultimately, it came down to each of their choices. One chose to humbly return to the Father and the other one did not, and that makes me incredibly sad. :(


Here is more of the story about my brother told in a different post on the Bible Book Club Blog.


APPLICATION


I come away from this chapter believing we are incredibly valuable to God. His eyes are moving "to and fro throughout the whole earth" so that He can "strongly support those whose heart is completely His" (2 Chronicles 16:9). Doesn't that just make your heart sing? He is leaving the other 99 to find you. The lamp is lit, and He is searching. Now, all you have to do is go back to Him, and He will run to you, put His ring on your finger, and His robe on your back, carry you back on His shoulders and give you a feast! What could be more lovely than that?


Maybe you have not wandered. Are there lost sheep, coins, and brothers around you?

In military operations the machinery, equipment, supplies, and even personnel are commonly considered "expendable" in order to ensure the ultimate victory.
Contrast this with spiritual warfare in which each human being is infinitely valuable. In spiritual conflict only one Person was deemed "expendable" -- the Lord Jesus Christ -- and even His seeming defeat on the cross was turned to victory three days later. 
How great is God's love for lost men? "God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). How can you help to send this good news of sins forgiven to an unsaved friend or neighbor? Why not send a special gift to a mission agency, and take a baked treat (and a word of witness to a neighbor, so that sinners far and near might learn of God's love firsthand? After all, what if you had been considered "expendable" by the one who shared the gospel with you? 
(The Daily Walk, October 21, 2008, p. 26)
PRAYER

Thank You for running to me when I least deserved it. Praise You for Your mercy. I love you. Amen. 

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