Summary: The parable of the Lost Coin, Lost Sheep and Two Lost sons is about God’s grace. The youngest found direction in the midst of the choas of his life. Jesus is reminding the Pharisees that God does not play by their rules of acceptance.
In Jesus Holy Name March 14, 2010
Text: Luke 15:1-6 Redeemer
“In the Chaos of Life…. Hope and Direction”
“Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to Jesus… and the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying… This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them….. so Jesus said… “let me tell you a story…”
In other words Jesus is saying, “You think you know God, but you do not. God doesn’t play by your rules. Here is what God is all about.” Let me tell you a story. “A father has two sons…”
In reality Jesus said to the Pharisees: “let me tell you three stories.”
The parable of the Lost sheep. The parable of the Lost Coin; then the parable of the two Lost Sons. (read the parables)
A shepherd pays a personal price to find and restore a lost sheep. The woman does the same for her coin. A father gives both boys the family inheritance early.
According to the 3rd parable the young son requests his inheritance while his father is still alive and in good health. In traditional Middle Eastern culture, this means, “Father, I am eager for you to die!” If the father is a traditional Middle Eastern father, he will strike the boy across the face and drive him out of the house. This is an outrageous request. The father is expected to refuse.
The father grants the youngest son his request, but it also means the older son now receives his share as well. “The father divided the property”. The father allows the younger son to exercise his freedom of choice/his free will. What does the Father now own? (nothing)
The inheritance is substantial. This is a wealthy family that has a herd of fatted calves and a herd of goats, and house servants. We can see that the house includes a banquet hall large enough to host a crowd that will eat an entire fatted calf. Professional musicians and dancers are hired for the banquet.
The younger son gathers together all he has and converts it to cash. He is selling part of the family farm. He leaves with a pocket full of cash, which he did not earn. The family breakdown becomes public knowledge. The culture did grant the father the right to divide the property but to sell the property before the father’s death is an offense and the family is shamed.
The younger son’s “ban” from the family and the community is more comprehensive than the Amish “shun”. When shunned an Amish person can at least eat at a separate table. The first century Jewish shun was a total ban on any contact with the family or community. In the “far country” the Jewish boy lives among Gentiles…
He is accused of loose living. He wasted his money. He went to all the nightclubs. He went to all the parties. When you have money you have fair weather friends. And so for a while he lived it up. But there came a day when he reached into his pocket and there wasn’t anything left. He could not return home. He has broken the rules. He needs a paying job just to have something to eat. Chaos is now his lot in life. When we find ourselves in a “chaos” there is hope that we too will find our direction “home”. Humility came to the younger son in the midst of chaos.
Becoming a pig herder, does not work. No one gave him anything. “As he worked feeding the pigs he longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating…” Ever been near a pig sty? His cloths stank. He is fed but not paid. The prodigal son decides on one last option….He could not ask to be accepted into full son ship again…but he could live better, even as a hired hand. It is the memory of a good father that beckons him back home.
His one hope is that his humble speech will touch his father’s heart as he seeks to be wage earner to pay back the lost inheritance. He is returning empty handed. He has shamed his family; his father… the painful road back is endured for one reason. He is hungry!
Rev. Kenneth Sauer of Newport, Virginia tells the story of an incident that happened at a church in he once served.
In this church there was a very strong Christian, someone we might call a “pillar of the church”. She was someone who the rest of the congregation strived to imitate. She knew her Bible. She lived an exemplary life.
A member of the church, a young man, contracted
AIDS. He was able to hide it from his fellow church members for quite a while until, one day; he had to go to the hospital.