Term 2 – Week 6
Big Idea – We are lost because we are foolish and ungrateful – so come back and enjoy the celebration in God’s family!
- Realise how foolish our rebellion from God is and return to his welcome arms.
- Belief – Sin is foolish and ungrateful. God loves to welcome his children back to him.
- Behaviour – Turn away from sin and enjoy living as God’s child with his good gifts to us
Chapter 15 of Luke’s Gospel contains three connected parables that inform and support each other in painting a picture of salvation. The preceding passages focused on the ‘narrow door’, the door into heaven that is only entered by a specific and narrow route. The cost of being a disciple is high, and way is thin. The ‘sinners’ in 15:1 gather round to hear Jesus. How does one enter the Kingdom of Heaven. It is a narrow way that comes through knowledge of Jesus and following him. But what do we do? In their spite the Pharisees answer this question in 15:2 – ‘this man welcomes sinners.’
Remember, Luke is a Gospel account likely written by a Gentile to show us how to be saved. Salvation is for the entire world. What does chapter 15 tell us about salvation? Many commentators have worked to spot the consistency and variation with these three parables. Clearly the emphasis is in the repetition of ‘lost’ and ‘found.’ But in each circumstance the losing and the finding looks different. In the first, the lost sheep is astray. In the second, the lost coin is helpless. In the third, the lost son is foolish. We find three descriptions of the lost sinner, three indictments on our hearts before we are ‘found’.
The agents in each parable have resulted in speculation that each of them represents a different person of the Trinity acting in salvation. Most clearly we see this in the Father who welcomes the lost on. But Jesus as the self-proclaimed ‘good shepherd’ fulfils the promises of Ezekiel 34 to actively seek and save the lost, chiefly at the cross. Least obvious is the woman seeking for the lost coin – the women is the primary agent for a coin that is totally hopeless in its lost-ness; no bleating or repentant returning is possible – therefore representing the new birth sinners receive in the Spirt, death to life, helpless to saved. We may be unconvinced, but nevertheless these three parables serve to show different sides to the cube that is Jesus’ teaching on salvation.
Another common theme is the joy caused by the finding – from one sheep in 100, to one coin in ten, to one son of two. As the joy increases in the chapter so must our estimation of the joy inherent in salvation. The celebration ensuing at the return of the lost son is surely indicative of the heavenly host rejoicing at the salvation of the sinner.
In our passage, we see the emphasis placed on the activity of the ‘losing’ rather than the ‘finding’. The younger son selfishly and ungratefully squanders what his Father gives him on short-term gratifying pleasures. What a comment on our pleasure-seeking society. Yet the older brother is a warning too as the scoffing Pharisees listen in, may we never count our adoption to God’s family as a right nor as a status we deserve or earn; salvation is a gift, a mercy, a grace for us all . Once we grasp that we can join the celebration.
‘my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all nations,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel’
Super Saviour – Colin Buchanan
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