Reading For Friday Luke 15:1-32
These parables of Jesus were told in light of the fact that he regularly received sinners and ate with them. Tax collectors were evidently considered an entirely different class of sinners. Therefore, to the Pharisees and scribes, Jesus' behavior was scandalous. However, Jesus is challenging the ideas of separation and segregation. Jesus' mission is different from what the religious leaders of the day prescribed. The parables about lost things serve to illustrate kingdom values and prescribes a different way of understanding those that Jesus came to save.
Jesus went to the marketplace, to the dregs of society, searching for the lost. Through this parable, he challenges the Pharisees to rethink their principles. It is not a stretch to think that someone might go to great lengths to find a lost sheep, but the Pharisees object when Jesus goes searching for lost people. The angels of God rejoice and celebrate when a person has been redeemed. The same idea is applied in the parable of the lost coin. This story is not about silver coins; it is about people.
The last of these parables is very familiar. There were two sons, and one goes rogue. The law gave instructions regarding inheritance. Deuteronomy 21 required that the elder son receives twice as much as the rest of the sons. Since there were only two sons in this story, the younger son would receive a third of the total property of the father. The father grants his request and turns over a third of the estate to his boy. When he receives it, he goes off wastes the money on riotous living. When the money ran out, he had to seek employment wherever he could find it, and the only place he found was detestable to the Jews. He worked with pigs which would have been considered a curse. Swineherding rendered him unclean and practically caused him to renounce Judaism. At his lowest point, he wanted to eat what the pigs were eating. Finally, he came to a realization. He should go back home to his father because his father's servants had plenty to eat. He works out a speech for his father on the way home. Surely this son was nervous about returning after he had behaved so poorly. What would his father do? How would he be received? Jesus gives us a beautiful picture as the father sees and recognizes his son from a great distance. This father did not wait for his son to arrive, nor did he give him the I told you so speech. Instead, he did the unexpected and ran to his son and took him in his arms. His son didn't even get the opportunity to share his prepared speech as the father begins to order the servants to honor him with clothing and a feast. he gave him the ring which was the symbol of the family and authority.
The story takes an awkward turn as the plot shifts to the older brother. He just could not understand his father’s delight at the return of this son who had wasted all his money. This older brother has everything, but he is consumed with anger and jealousy. This particular parable was a stinging rebuke to the Pharisees. They felt no compassion for the lost, in fact, they were disgusted by them, and even when one was converted they didn’t want that new convert in their company. Jesus gives a picture of grace that for the Pharisees was untenable.
Things To Consider:
- Why do you think Jesus uses the metaphor of a shepherd so often?
- How are we like the sheep?
- Why do you think the Pharisees were so critical of the tax collectors and sinners?
- What imagery is created for you when you think of the rejoicing in heaven over a repentant sinner?
- Do you think the younger son had any idea about the danger he was headed into when he set out with his fortune?
- Why do we have to reach the end of ourselves to see the truth?
- What does the response of the father to the prodigal teach us about God?
- Are there people that you do not think are worthy of the love of God?
- Are you seeking vengeance on someone for their poor choices or are you seeking reconciliation?