LUKE 15: LOST + FOUND = CELEBRATE!
Bible Background: This is found only in Luke! Jesus tells 3 parables of the lost being found and celebrated. Note that he tells these in response to the Pharisees and scribes who are “grumbling that this man eats with tax collectors and sinners!”
Digging Deeper: 1. These parables illustrate Luke’s message that the Good News is for all people, and that when one ‘lost’ one is found, the response of celebrating beats that of grumbling! Tax collectors were not IRS agents, but rather Jews who collaborated with the Romans. They were deeply despised. Sinners would be the kind you’d avoid at all costs. Jesus attracts these folks and welcomes them!
2. The Parable of the Prodigal Son can also be titled: The Parable of the Waiting Father. The Father is the main character. Is this Father a fool? Absolutely! Why does he not stand up for his own rights and respect? Why does he let both sons effectively walk all over him? The short answer is he’s a dad who loves his sons completely and unselfishly. He can do no other!
3. The younger son takes off with his inheritance and ‘hits bottom’. When he comes to his senses, he figures “maybe I could go back home (a huge change in him!) and be one of my father’s hired hands.” He rehearses a ‘confession’ speech. And he sets out for home! When life has gone off the rails, how hard is it to ‘swallow your pride’ and admit you were wrong? Why do you think that is? What is there to admire in this son? What is there to shake your head at?
4. The father has been waiting and watching for this lost son! He runs to meet him! There will be no groveling; no lecturing, just a full-blown celebration! Why would the dad do something like this? What effect might this have on that son?
5. Then son #1 comes into the picture. He’s been a loyal worker, but his love/respect for his father is completely missing too! The greater share of the inheritance will be his, but he’s not happy. You can see how ‘unfair’ the whole mess with his brother has been. But he makes it all about “Me/My grievances.”
6. The parable does not have a happy ending. We don’t know if the older son will come in and celebrate. We don’t know if there will be reconciliation. It all hinges on his response. Yes, the Father is a fool! What would you give to have someone love you with such reckless abandon? Recite for yourself the words of John 3:16! We are all loved with such a perfect, self-giving love. How will we share it?