Summary: People can have many priorities. Jesus expects His followers to have priorities based on His value system, not the value system of the world.
There are many things in life about which we can be concerned. We can be concerned about the weather – when will it be warmer? We can be concerned about the economy – especially if we are being directly affected by the recession. One’s health is also a matter of concern to many people. This morning as we continue in the series, Priority Check, we come to Luke 15. We will find a variety of concerns contained in this chapter. Jesus tells three parables about the tremendous concern that develops over that which is lost and the great joy that results when that which is lost is found. He tells about the concern of a man over a lost sheep. Jesus tells about the concern of a woman over a lost coin. He then tells about the concern of a father over a lost son. Jesus is using the parables to point to the priority of concern God has for His children who are lost and the joy that results when they are found.
This morning as we continue to take make a Priority Check we will be considering what it is that concerns us. As we look at Luke 15 we will see the importance of having a Priority of Concern that is built on godly values.
Luke 15 opens with a description of those who were hearing Jesus. Most people would see the great difference between these people.
1 Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him.
2 Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, "This man receives sinners and eats with them."
The first group is found in verse 1 – tax collectors and sinners. Most would say these were the dregs of society. Tax collectors were despised because they had united with the Roman government and were collecting taxes from the Jews to further fund the oppressing government. Not only that, they usually overcharged the tax in order to line their own pockets. The other group were also despised by most Jews, particularly Jewish leaders. These were given the general category of sinners. This group would include prostitutes, thieves, drunkards, adulterers, and such.
The second group is found in verse 2 – Pharisees and scribes. These were people recognized as leaders. They were well-educated. They knew the Law. They were considered by many to be best of society. While people might be quick to see the differences between these two groups, Jesus could see the similarity. They both had a serious need. Both were lost and needed to be found!
With these people listening Jesus told them a story about a man who lost one of his one hundred sheep. That man frantically searched for the lost sheep until he found it. Then there was great JOY! Jesus went on to tell about a woman who had lost one of her ten coins. These coins (drachmas) had an approximate value of one day’s wages. She frantically searched for the lost coin until she found it. Then there was great JOY! In both instances Jesus told those listening to Him that there is great JOY in heaven when a sinner truly repents. Right away we can see the PRIORITY OF CONCERN that is important for those who are lost in sin! Today there is still great JOY in heaven when one is found through the Gospel of Christ.
Jesus then comes to the third parable that begins in Luke 15:11 and continues through the end of the chapter (vs. 32). This parable is well known by many today. It is frequently called “The Parable of the Prodigal Son.” Prodigal means “recklessly wasteful.” Some have said a better title for the parable would be, “The Parable of the Loving Father.” Another perspective could be taken and the title could be, “The Parable of the Self-Righteous Brother.” We will be seeing different concerns from each of these in the parable – the younger son, the elder son, and the father.
I. Concern of the Younger Son
11 And He said, "A man had two sons.
12 "The younger of them said to his father, ’Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ So he divided his wealth between them.
13 "And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living.
14 "Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished.
15 "So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
16 "And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him.