By Allen J. Huth, President of the Ezra Project |
Luke 15 contains three famous parables. The parable of a lost sheep, a lost coin, and the parable of the prodigal son, but the theme for this chapter is the heart of Jesus for lost people. Certainly, He loves the ninety-nine sheep, but He loves the lost one, and He goes and seeks after him. Aren’t you glad He loves you and He seeks after you even when you are lost? Verse 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.” Jesus still cares about lost sheep.
His next illustration is about the woman with the ten coins. She loses one coin and she searches her whole house for that coin. It is the same principle as the lost sheep. Verse 10, “Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Jesus still cares about lost coins.
Then, to deepen the illustration even more, He follows with the parable of the prodigal son. How many of us have been given much by God but squandered it in reckless living? How many of us have gone the way of the world and not the way of the Word? How many of us have hit rock bottom because of our reckless lives?
How many of us have come to our senses and understand we were given everything by our Father and we need to go and seek His forgiveness. How many of us have recognized, like the prodigal son, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you” (verse 18)? How many of us realize we are not worthy to be called His sons?
But how many of us realize that our Father is waiting for us? Verse 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.” Yes, the father was standing out there longing for his son, just like God longs for us.
That prodigal son confessed his sin before his father like we have done. And look at the father’s response. Verses 22-24:
“Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate.For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.” And they began to celebrate.
Yes, there is joy in heaven over one lost sheep, one lost coin, one lost son!
The prodigal son is a great story, but I always had trouble with it. I share from my personal Bible journal back in 1996, when I was forty-one years old:
The prodigal son. I’ve always had a hard time with this parable. I understand the forgiveness of the young son. Praise God, it may not matter how low we fall, God has a deeper forgiveness. But the older son gets the short-end of the deal. It almost appears that sinful, fun living is worth a try because the celebration is greater upon the return. The older son stayed the course, righteous living, and that life is not celebrated. Yes, the end result is the same, heaven, but why not recognize those who long to live right all the days of their lives?
Do you feel that way about this parable? Oh yes, we are thankful God forgives all of us prodigal sons. But what about the point I made in my journal?
Perhaps you have stayed the course. You did not run off and squander what God has blessed you with in reckless living. You don’t have one of those down and out testimonies that become glorious. You might even consider yourself to be a boring, straight-arrow Christian. You lived a life like the older son in this parable.
I feel this way because I have been a Christian since I was fifteen. I tried hard to live a righteous life for the Lord. I have not squandered what God has blessed me with by reckless living. You may feel the same, so may we gain great understanding from this parable today.
What the father said to the older son, Jesus says to us today. “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours” (verse 31). That is the balance of the blessing. It’s been true in my life. I hope it’s been true in yours.
As we stay the course, as we walk the path God has set before us, He is always with us. He has been with me my whole journey and everything that is His is mine. Yes, yes, yes, I have experienced the blessings of God in my life. I didn’t need to turn south to find north again.
For those who have, praise God, He restores us as prodigal sons. For those of us who lived the life as the older brother, praise God, for all He has is ours. We have enjoyed the fatted calf over a lifetime! To God be the glory for the lessons of life in Luke 15.
Thank You, Lord, that You go after the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son. Thank You that You are a God of restoration. But also thank You for offering to the rest of us everything You have. Thank You that You are always with us. Thank You for celebrating both the prodigal son and the older son. In Jesus’ name, amen.