Summary: Jesus told three parables about lost sheep, a lost coin and a lost son. The stories highlight the truth that missing people matter to God. God places tremendous value on every individual. All heaven rejoices when one person repents and turns to God.
Those of you who have had or currently have sons can closely identify with the story Jesus told about a rebellious son. The rebellious son was the teenager and the other son was obedient and probably in his twenties.
In Luke chapter 15 Luke records that Jesus made it his practice to associate with tax collectors and other notorious sinners. The Pharisees and teachers of religious law complained that Jesus was associating with despicable people and even eating with them. The Scribes and Pharisees believed in guilt by association. Since Jesus associated with people who did not honor God then Jesus did not honor God either.
In answer to their complain Jesus told three parables about lost sheep, a lost coin and a lost son. The stories highlight the truth that missing people matter to God. God places tremendous value on every individual. All heaven rejoices when one person repents and turns to God.
If a Shepherd at the end of the day counts his sheep and there are 99 safely in fold but one is missing. The Shepherd will go out and search until he finds the one lost sheep. When he finds the lost sheep the Shepherd will put the sheep on his shoulders and carry it back to be safe with the other sheep. The Shepherd will call all his friends and neighbors and have a great celebration. Jesus said that there is great celebration in heaven when one person comes back to God.
Jesus puts great value on one person. One person not yet a member of God’s family matters to God.
If a woman has ten coins and loses one she will search every inch of her house until she finds it. When she finds it she will gather her neighborhood friends to celebrate her discovery. Just as this woman experiences joy at finding her lost coin, so there is joy in heaven when one person repents and turns to God.
When a man took a bride in the Middle East, he would give her a ribbon with ten coins strung on the ribbon. The woman would wear this token of love as a garland on her head as many women in the Middle East do today. Like a wedding band these ten coins represented the marital relationship. If a woman was caught in adultery and found unfaithful to her husband, one of the coins would be taken out leaving a gap to show that she had disgraced her marriage vows. For the woman to find the one coin meant her reputation and marriage were at stake. No wonder the woman had such a great celebration when she found the one lost coin.
Jesus is interested in people becoming part of His family.
The story of the prodigal son illustrates how a person’s life can be transformed by the power and grace of God. It is possible for a person who rebels against God, his parents and society to experience a turn around. The story of the lost son illustrates the meaning of repentance.
The Father of the Prodigal Son illustrates the compassion and love of God. God is always ready to meet you more than half way.
Jesus illustrated the truth to the Pharisees, Scribes and others who were listening. “A man had two sons. The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now, instead of waiting until you die.’ So the father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.”
The younger son demanded his inheritance while his father was still alive. According to Jewish law, a father who had two sons was to leave 2/3 of his estate to his older son and 1/3 to his younger son.
As far as we know this home was not a dysfunctional home, nor was the younger son mistreated. The father knew it was no use arguing with his son. He knew that allowing his son to go would result in painful experiences and scares for his son.
The son packed up and left home. It wasn’t long until he had “wasted all his money on wild living.” (Luke 15:13) Loaded with cash and free from parental restraints the young man headed straight for the casinos, the bars, and the strip joints, and blew all his money.
Luke 15:14-16 “About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. He persuaded a local firmer to hire him to feed his pigs. The boy became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.”
For a young Jewish boy to find himself slopping hogs would be about as low as a Jewish boy could go. A person raised as a strict Jew would not eat pork. Jews were forbidden to eat swine. They could raise and sell pigs to Gentiles, but even then the job of feeding and caring for pigs was a job for servants and slaves.