Luke 15:1-2-Tax gatherers and sinners were coming to Jesus and the Pharisees (the religious, self-righteous people) were complaining that He received them and spent time with them. These were not respectable people…they were people with a history, scandalous people. Certainly, these were not the kind of people that a Rabbi should be entertaining. Or, so they thought. Jesus then tells them a parable of being lost and found (15:4-32). The parable teaches that God rejoices over those who are lost…when they are restored to Him. He tells the parable by using three illustrations of things that have been lost, and then found…1 out of 100 sheep (:4), 1 out of 10 coins (:8), 1 out of 2 sons (:12). His intention is to teach the Pharisees that God is pleased when these tax gatherers and sinners are found…when they are restored to God. But He knows that the Pharisees have a negative opinion towards them. So, He begins by giving the first two illustrations that they will have no problem with…sheep and money. Having agreed that the owner will indeed rejoice when they are found…He then tells the story of the lost son. They will agree with this, as well. But, included in this illustration is a second son, the older brother…and this son is not happy that the father is receiving the wayward son back. The second son represents the Pharisees and their attitude towards the tax gatherers and sinners. The father (who represents God’s perspective) corrects the thinking of the son…and in so doing, indirectly shows the Pharisees the error in their thinking. While the younger son was wrong in what he had done, the older son was just as wrong in his self-righteous attitude, judgmental behavior and unwillingness to forgive that he exhibited towards his brother. It is interesting that Jesus does not tell us if the second son ever changed his mind. Instead, He left him in the story at the very point that the Pharisees were at…with the responsibility to accept the father’s correction and repent, or to continue in their wrong attitudes.
Luke 15:3-7-The parable of the lost sheep. Jesus is intentionally directing this story directly to the Pharisees by saying, “What man among you…” In other words, let’s not allow this story to be too ambiguous…but think of it as if this was your sheep that had been lost. Even the story itself would play to the Pharisees sense of self-righteousness. They probably looked at each other piously and nodded, as if saying, “Oh, absolutely. That is the right thing to do and that is exactly what I would do. And you could count on me to keep looking until I found it. No matter how long it took!” And notice, this shepherd is not shy about telling others that he is glad that the rebellious sheep has been brought back. He even calls together his friends and tells them. He wants everyone to know what has happened. Can you see the folks gathered there, including the Pharisees. They are nodding their heads in approval. It was a good story. Then, very quickly, Jesus makes His point (:7)…God is just as pleased when a sinner repents as that shepherd was that his sheep had been found. And notice, He adds that the repentance of this one sinner brings more joy to God than “ninety-nine righteous person who need no repentance”. These ninety-nine only think that they have no need to repent. The very fact that they see themselves as having no need of repentance tells us that they are deceived and need to repent…because no one is without sin.
Luke 15:8-10-The parable of the lost coin. Jesus quickly continues with another story. He doesn’t give the Pharisees time to dwell on what He has just said about sinners…and to begin to construct their argument against it. Without delay, He now tells a parable about a woman who loses a silver coin. Remember, women were not highly respected in their culture (their testimony was not even acceptable in the court of law). So, perhaps playing on their male ego just a little, it’s as if Jesus is saying that even a woman would recognize the truth that I am telling you here. Once again, great value is placed on that which is lost and the woman will not be deterred from her search until she finds and restores the lost coin. And when she does…she too gathers together her friends and neighbors and they rejoice with her. Probably most of the people listening had lost something of value at some time, or another, and then later found it. The story struck a cord in each and every heart as they remembered the feelings of that time in their own life. And once again, they are all nodding in approval…at the persistence of the woman, and at the joy over something lost being restored. Without missing a breath, while they are still smiling at each other, Jesus again speaks of the joy in heaven when a sinner repents, and is restored to God. This time the angels get involved in the rejoicing…and who would argue with an angel!
Prayer: Lord, help me to receive those that are seemingly unfit in the eyes of society…even our church society. Help me Lord, to see people through Your eyes.