Summary: In this lesson we learn what it means to be lost through the eyes of the younger son
Two Lost Sons
Do you know what the worst feeling is? It’s not the Saints losing twice in Seattle ending their playoff run. The worst feel is being lost. When I was six, my parents took me to a carnival. It was a kid’s dream: games, rides, cotton candy, hotdogs, and clowns. I remember standing in the middle of the carnival just taking in all the sights and sounds and deciding which game I wanted to start with. It was crowded and people were everywhere. My parents were right beside me when I stopped and went over to watch a target rifle game. I turned to my parents to get some money and they were nowhere in sight. Suddenly a sinking feeling became panic as I realized that I was lost. Tears started to stream down my face as I called out for my parents. For the very first time in my life, I was frightened, all alone and lost.
We’ve all been there at some point in our lives, frozen by fear, not knowing where to go or what decisions to make and you realize you’re totally lost. There’s no worse feeling. This is true in every area of your life. I've worked with individuals and families who are lost financially. They’re so far in debt that they can’t even imagine getting out of it. This happens in people’s careers, especially in the last few years when people find themselves unemployed and unable to find work in the field of their training. And they’re faced with completely changing career paths and feel lost. I see it in mid life crises where people question who they are, what they’ve done and where they’re headed. This happens in relationships, where a couple starts off in love, they walk down the isle with great hopes and expectations. They begin a family and as the kids grow older and get more involved in extracurricular activities, careers get more demanding and there’s very little time left for the marriage. And before you know it, they’re two ships passing in the night. Romance dwindles, communication is almost non-existant and feelings of love have subsided and they feel that the relationship is lost. And it happens spiritually. People feel like they’re alienated or distanced from God. Try as they might, they can’t draw close to him, feel his presence or hear his voice. It’s usually a result of sin in their life or by being very good and thinking your obedience has earned you the right to be accepted by God.
We're going to spend the next 3 weeks on the parable of the Prodigal Son. It’s the story of a father who had 2 sons. Most people think of this story as the story of the prodigal son but it's really the story of the prodigal sons because both are alienated from their father and lost. They simply chose different paths to get that way. The Good News is this: helping lost people is Jesus' specialty. It’s why He came, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke 19:10
One of the first questions to ask of parables is “Why did Jesus tell it?” Jesus never just tells a story for the heck of it. It’s always in response to something someone says or a situation he’s in or an encounter he has. So why did Jesus tell this story of two lost sons? To answer that question, let’s look at the very first verses of our Scripture today: “Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him. And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, “This Man receives sinners and eats with them.” So He spoke this parable to them, saying...” (Luke 19:10) Now you have to understand that Jesus’ ministry lasted 3 years. The first year he was building his following and increasing in popularity. ,By his third year, Jesus is speaking tougher messages challenging the people and confronting the religious leadership until he is betrayed, arrested and crucified. When Jesus teaches this parable, he is at the pinnacle of his popularity. Everywhere he goes, multitudes of people are coming to hear Him, lepers are being healed, the sick are being made well, multitudes are being fed, the dead are being raised and lives are being transformed. But in the midst of all this, there’s the religious leaders who hated what Jesus was doing. Why? Because Jesus threatened their leadership, their power and their livelihood. Jesus exposed them for their hypocrisy and this infuriated them. So they’d show up wherever Jesus was and ask questions to trap him and challenge his credibility. In our Scripture today, they were upset that Jesus was associating Himself with sinners, people who are lost, in other words, people who need... Jesus. And so Jesus’ answer to their indictment of Him is to tell them this story. But just as Jesus was speaking to the religious Pharisees, so he was also speaking to the people in the crowd, as he is to us.