Walking to the Promised Land
Wilderness Walking: Trust, Delight, Commit2 Digging Deeper
The Blessed Life Ever: Walk in the Ways of the Lord2 Digging Deeper
Flawless Footsteps: Walk as Christ Walked2 Digging Deeper
The View From Down Here: Walk Humbly2 Digging Deeper
Watch Where You Step: Walk Carefully2 Digging Deeper
Keep on Keeping on: Walk by Faith2 Digging Deeper
Stay out of the Shadows: Walk in the Light2 Digging Deeper
Follow Your Guide: Walk by the Spirit2 Digging Deeper
Walk Tall: Walk Uprightly2 Digging Deeper
Choose Wisely: Walk with Wise Men2 Digging Deeper
Love, That's All: Walk in Love2 Digging Deeper
When No One's Looking: Walk in Integrity2 Digging Deeper
Be Good Do Good: Walk in Good Works3 Digging Deeper
Leave Your Past Behind: Walk in Newness of Life2 Digging Deeper
Remember Who You Are: Walk Worthy2 Digging Deeper
Walk with the Father: Walk with God6 Digging Deeper
The Lost Stories
To read and study the parables told by Jesus is to take a glimpse into the very nature of God, to reach a deeper comprehension of the kingdom of Heaven, and to gain greater insight into truths relative to our salvation. Jesus, in wisdom and compassion, taught spiritual principles using subjects and objects that we as humans can relate to, appreciate, and experience. To translate the spiritual into the tangible was a precious gift given to us by our Savior. In my mind I hear Jesus say, “I want you to know this; I want you to grab a hold of this; I don’t want you to miss this; so I’m going to explain it in a way that you can hear the truth and see the truth, if you choose to understand and perceive it.”
In Luke chapter 15 we find three parables: The Lost Sheep (v. 4-7), The Lost Coin (v. 8-10), and The Lost Son (v. 11-32). Read through those parables in your Bible and let’s take a look at what Jesus wanted us to know about His Father, the kingdom, and salvation in these stories He told…
First, as always, consider what is happening in the context of these parables being taught. Beginning in verse 1 of Luke 15, we find that the tax collectors and sinners were “drawing near” to Jesus in order to hear Him speak. The Pharisees and scribes complained, and said “This Man receives sinners and eats with them.” So, in response to this complaint–the fact that He is interacting with sinners–Jesus tells three stories that center around the theme of…repentance.
In the first story, Jesus compares a man lost in sin to a lost sheep. A lost sheep needs its shepherd and a lost sinner needs his Savior. In the parable, Jesus explains that even if one sheep, out of one hundred, is lost, the shepherd will leave the others to go and search for it. When he finds it, he places the sheep across his shoulders and brings it home, rejoicing all the way! Then the shepherd calls his friends and neighbors to come and celebrate with him because he found the sheep that had been lost.
Jesus is our Shepherd and we are His sheep. As a shepherd is concerned for every sheep in his flock, each sheep has value to him, and each sheep is under his watchful eye; so are we to our Savior. Every soul is precious to Him. He is not content for even one soul to be lost. There is rejoicing in Heaven over one sinner who repents! (Remember, to “repent” is to “turn back to God” and is the result of “godly sorrow.” Acts 3:19; 2 Corinthians 7:9-10).
In the next story, Jesus compares a man lost in sin to a lost coin. As the shepherd values his sheep, so this woman values her coin! She looks diligently for it by lighting a lamp and sweeping the house until she finds it. When she does, like the shepherd, she calls her friends and neighbors to rejoice with her because she had found what she had lost. In the same way, there is rejoicing in Heaven over one sinner who repents!
In the last story, Jesus compares a man lost in sin to a lost son. We sometimes refer to this parable as “The Prodigal Son,” meaning “the wasteful son.” To sum it up quickly, a boy confronts his father and demands his portion of the inheritance. The boy takes his possessions, leaves the country, and uses up all of what his father had given him. At that time a famine arises and he finds himself without food, money, or a home. The young man begins to work as a servant for one of the citizens of that country, feeding pigs for a living, even sharing their food because he had nothing to eat.
But in verse 17, something happens. The boy “comes to himself!” His eyes open! He realizes the despair of his situation, but he also sees his hope! He decides to return home and beg his father to just let him stay there as one of his servants. He even plans out what he will say: “Father, I have sinned against Heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.” I can just imagine him reciting this in his head over and over as he makes the journey home. I imagine him dreading the moment he has to fall, ashamed and unworthy, at the feet of his father. But that’s not what happens at all…
…because the father has been watching the road, waiting for the day his son would come home! The father sees his boy from long distance away and he runs to meet him! He RUNS! He cannot wait to grab him in his arms and kiss his son’s face! The boy begins his speech: “Father I have sinned against Heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son…” But he can’t even finish the next part because the father is asking for the best robe to be brought out to place around his son, he’s putting a ring on his son’s finger and sandals on his feet. He announces that there will be a feast and celebration! His son is home!!
But not everyone is rejoicing. The older brother is angry and will not join in the celebrating. He complains to his father that even though he has always been faithful, he has never received a feast or party in his honor. The father answers him by saying “All that I have is yours! It’s right for us to be happy and celebrate over your bother, because he was dead and is alive again. He was lost and is found!”
In this story, God represents the father. The younger son represents a lost sinner. The older brother represents the Pharisees and scribes or anyone else who considers themselves to be righteous through their own efforts or who look down on “sinners.” This parable shows the beautiful, unconditional, loving-kindness of our Heavenly Father. It shows how much He cherishes each one of His children. It shows His mercy and His forgiveness. But at its very heart, this parable shows the joy that results from repentance! It’s about a lost sinner who comes back to God. It’s about God’s open arms and His willingness and readiness to restore that repentant sinner. This isn’t a story about a disappointed father who stood ready to humiliate and punish his embarrassed and sorrowful son, it’s about a loving father who ran to his broken boy, heard his confession of sin, saw his changed heart, and grabbed his boy up into His arms.
A couple final thoughts:
Notice that the sheep was lost because it had wandered away through its own carelessness, the coin was lost as a result of someone else’s carelessness, and the son was lost because he chose to leave home and go his own way. All were lost–how they became lost is quite different.
Notice in the parable of the sheep that sometimes it takes leaving the ninety-nine to go out and find the one! How much effort are we each making to evangelize the world? How much work are we doing beyond our church buildings to reach the lost? Are we going out and rescuing sheep who desperately need to be found?
Notice that to find the coin the woman had to light her lamp. As Christians, we have a lamp! Psalm 119:105 says, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” We should be using the light of the Word in our efforts to reach the lost!
Notice that Jesus came into this world, “to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). As we follow in the footsteps of Jesus, this should also be our focus! As much as Jesus cared for me, so should I care about others.
So, this was Jesus’ answer to those Pharisees and scribes. “You want to know why I receive sinners? Because their souls matter. Each and every one. They all matter. And when they repent and return to God, He welcomes them home, and there is great rejoicing in Heaven!”