Luke 15


“Now the tax collectors and “sinners” were all gathering around to hear him. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Luke 15:1-2

This chapter is probably one of the best-loved chapters in the Bible. Some people describe it as ‘The Gospel within the Gospel’ and certainly, in many ways we do have the Gospel in miniature here in this chapter. And as someone once said, ‘It contained the very distilled essence of the good news which Jesus had come to tell.”

We can all see little defects in people at times, but we should never let those defects stop us from approaching them with the Gospel of Christ. In our first parable, we find Jesus sharing His truths with our dear friends, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law.

Have you ever had people telling you that you shouldn’t hang out with certain people? Maybe you’re talking with someone who is known as a drunkard and other passers-by take note of it. Maybe you’ve seen talking with a drug dealer in the street and the people around take notice of you both.

And when you look over at them, you can see them whispering things about you because of the person you’re speaking to. And they’re probably saying things like, “If he only knew who he was talking to if he only knew what kind of person that was.” And when we as Christians talk to anyone who doesn’t fit in with society’s idea of acceptable, society takes it as an offence.

In Luke 7 when Jesus is invited into a Pharisee’s house, a woman comes in off the street and it’s clear that she’s not welcome. And so Jesus says to Simon in Luke 7:33, “Simon, do you see this woman?” I mean how could he not see the woman?

She’s standing there in front of him. The problem was Simon saw a tramp, Simon saw a sinner, an unclean woman, someone who wasn’t good enough to be saved. But the point is that just like Simon many people are offended when we say that the Gospel is for those kinds of people too.

That’s the kind of thing that’s going on here. It was an offence to the Jewish leaders that Jesus should be seen in association with the tax collectors and sinners. By their own regulations, and we looked at some of them the last time we were together, a Pharisee was forbidden to be the guest of any such man.

They were even forbidden to have these people as their guests. They weren’t allowed to have any dealings with tax collectors and sinners as far as it was possible. They couldn’t even buy anything from them or even sell anything to them. They were to try and avoid any contact with them all together.

Now that we understand the Pharisees’ thinking we can see why they were shocked by Jesus’ actions. But they weren’t just shocked, they were shocked to the core because this man, who claimed to be their Messiah, wanted so much to spend time in the company with those outsiders. In their minds, if you had anything to do with sinners you were guaranteed to be corrupted.

Their attitude wasn’t so much, “there is joy in heaven over one sinner who repents,” but rather it was “there is joy in heaven when one sinner is obliterated before God.”

They looked sadistically forward, not to the saving of the sinner but the destruction of the sinner. And it’s because these religious leaders considered themselves already in the fold, that Jesus tells them they should be glad that He was seeking those who were outside the fold.

The Parable Of The Lost Sheep

“Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbours together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’” Luke 15:3-6

This is certainly one of the simplest of parables that Jesus ever taught. And in Judea at this time it was all so easy for a sheep to go astray. The pastureland was on the hill country, which would run like a backbone down the middle of the land.

Now, this ridge-like plateau was very narrow, it was only a few miles across and at its best this pastureland was bare and so the sheep were very liable to wander.

And in their search for more grass, they would wander off into little gullies and ravines and very often they would end up on some ledge where they couldn’t get back up or down. And all too often many would just stay there until they died.

Here in this parable, we have one of Jesus’ favourite pictures of God. A picture of a loving, caring shepherd who brought home the wanderer. And so what I want to do is share with you 5 small points from this parable about the love of God.

1. The love of God is an individual love, Luke 15:4.

The 99 sheep weren’t enough for Jesus, He wanted the whole lot. And when one went wandering, He wasn’t going to rest until He brought it back home again. Jesus is telling us that He has a love to offer that’s not just for everyone, but a priceless love especially for you.

The Palestine shepherds were experts at tracking down their sheep and they could follow the tracks of their sheep for miles. And they would go to any lengths to bring that sheep back, Matthew 18:12.

And we would do the same with our family members, wouldn’t we? No matter how big your family is, if one of them goes astray, you would go to all lengths to find them and bring them back to safety.

My point is, even though some people have got 10 children, if one goes missing, that’s one that they cannot do without. And that’s because there’s no one who doesn’t matter. And our God is like that, He’s not happy until the last one is gathered in.

Paul says in 1 Timothy 1:15 that when he recognised that he was a sinner, he also understood that God’s love was an individual love. And like we’ve always said if you’re not a Christian, then God wants to offer that same individual love to you today.

2. The love of God is a patient love.

We all know how stupid sheep are, they are such foolish creatures. And so to a degree the sheep had no one but itself to blame for the dangers it had got itself into. And we do that with people all the time, especially with those who are foolish sometimes.

What do we say when people get into some kind of trouble? I’ll tell you what we say, we say, “Well, it’s their own fault, they brought it on themselves, don’t waste any sympathy on them.”

Let me tell you something, thank God, God isn’t like that. The sheep might be foolish but thank God the Good Shepherd would still risk His life to save it.

Thank God for John 10:11 where Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” Thank God for 2 Peter 3:9 where Peter says, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

Thank God that even though mankind can be foolish, God in His love loves even the foolish man who has got no one to blame for his sin and sorrow but himself. Thank God that He is a loving, patient God.

3. The love of God is a seeking love.

The flocks of sheep in Palestine were very often communal. In other words, they didn’t belong to an individual, they usually belonged to the whole village.

And so because of that, there were usually two or three shepherds with them, that’s one of the reasons the shepherd could leave the other 99. Because if they couldn’t leave the sheep with other shepherds when they returned they would find that other sheep would have gone astray.

When Jesus came to earth, He came on a search and rescue mission, He came to search for the lost and rescue them from their sins. But the point is that He came for us.

The shepherd wasn’t willing to wait for the sheep to come back, He went out to search for it. And that’s what the Jews even today, cannot understand about the Christian idea of God.

The Jew would gladly agree with us, if we said that if the sinner comes crawling wretchedly home to God, then God would forgive them. But we know our God is far more wonderful than that.

For in Christ Jesus, God came to seek and to search for those who wander. He’s not content to wait until men come home, Oh, no! He goes and searches for them, no matter what it costs Him.

The shepherds of Palestine would always make the most strenuous and the most sacrificial efforts to find a lost sheep.

Jesus came to find us before we thought about finding Him, Luke 19:10 / John 10:7-10 / 1 John 4:9-10. But Jesus says He didn’t come to seek and destroy. He came to seek and to give life, but not just life but life to the full. The love of God is a seeking love.

4. The love of God is a rejoicing love.

This parable is all about joy, you see when the shepherd went to find the lost sheep, they had a rule. And the rule was that if the sheep couldn’t be brought back alive, then where possible, the sheep’s fleece or bones must be brought back to prove that the sheep was indeed dead.

But we can imagine how the other shepherds would return with their flocks to the village in the evening time and how they would tell how one shepherd was still out in the mountains seeking the wanderer.

And imagine the eyes of those villagers, watching over the mountains waiting and looking for the shepherd who hadn’t come home yet. And then off in the distance, they would see a little figure of someone getting closer to the village.

And as that figure gets closer, they realise that this is the shepherd and the joy on their faces would be great to see. But as he gets closer they notice that he’s carrying this wanderer of a sheep across his shoulders and it’s still alive. And the whole village would come out and joyfully surround him and welcome him home.

Now if that were the church, I wonder how we would react?

I wonder if we would say things like, “Where have you been for the past few months? What sinful acts have you been involved in? Do you need to confess anything before the whole church today?”

With Jesus there are no accusations, there’s no receiving back with grudges, there’s no superior contempt, it’s all about joy, Galatians 6:1.

And instead of the church accepting a person who is repentant with a moral lecture and making it clear that they must see themselves as a disgraceful person.

And instead of making it clear that we’re never going to trust them again, maybe we can be like God, who forgets our past sins and doesn’t hold our sins against us.

God has thrown our sins into the depths of the sea, Micah 7:19, and there are warning signs all around the shore. And do you know what those signs say? No fishing.

We shouldn’t be in the business of dragging up the past sins in our own lives, never mind the sins of other people’s lives if God has thrown them away, Psalm 103:8-12.

And so when one of the flock goes astray and returns home, instead of reminding them of their sin, maybe we can put their sin behind God’s back like He does with ours when we get lost and come back to Him. Then we too can be happy like Jesus tells us in Matthew 18:13-14.

Do you realise that you can give heaven an excuse to party? I know that many people after they have been in prison for a few years often get together with their families to celebrate their newfound freedom.

But let me tell you that’s nothing like the celebration that breaks out in heaven when someone returns to God after going off back to the world.

“I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” Luke 15:7

If you’re involved in a sin, which is dragging you away from God, then you can be sure that if you repent and turn back to God there will be rejoicing in heaven.

The day you became a Christian was a day of rejoicing and if you’re not a Christian today and one day you decide to become a faithful follower of the Lord, then heaven will rejoice with you too. The love of God is a rejoicing love.

5. The love of God is a protecting love.

It’s not just a love that seeks, it’s also a love that saves. Now there can be a love which ruins, there can be a love that softens but the love of God is the protecting love which saves a person for the service of their fellow men, Psalm 34:18-20 / Psalm 55:16-17.

That’s why Paul could say in 2 Corinthians 12:10 “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” In other words, it’s God’s protecting love that makes the wanderer wise. It’s God’s protecting love that makes the weak strong. It’s God’s protecting love that makes the sinner pure.

Its God’s protecting love that makes the captive of sin a freeman of holiness. Its God’s protecting love that makes the overpowered by temptation the conqueror of sin. God’s love is a protecting love and God’s love will not only protect us in this life but also in the life to come.

Because as long as we’re faithful to Him, then you can be sure that nothing can separate us from His love. Paul says there is nothing in heaven or hell or on this earth that can stop God from loving you, Romans 8:34-39.

So Jesus says, no one will snatch us from God’s mighty hands, John 10:27-30, and that’s because He’s a protecting God. That’s the Gospel, that’s the Gospel according to Christ.

The Parable Of The Lost Coin

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbours together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:8-10

Now this parable is closely related to “The parable of the lost sheep”. But it’s also closely related to “The parable of the lost son”. All three parables go together and that’s because they all come from the same source.

In other words, the parables are told to the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who were condemning Jesus for associating with sinners, Luke 15:1-2. And so what Jesus is doing in all three parables is explaining why He associates with such people.

The coin in question here is a silver drachma, which by our standards is worth very little. But during Jesus’ time, this was worth a lot, it was equivalent to just over a day’s wage. So now we can understand why this woman was so desperate to find the lost coin, it meant the difference between eating and starving.

And in those days like some people in the world today, most people lived very much on the edge of things. And we see that in Matthew 20:1-16 when Jesus talked about “The parable of the vineyard workers.”

When all the men stood at the marketplace all day long, waiting for the opportunity to work, very little stood between them living and starving. She turned the house upside down because whether or not she found it, would determine whether or not her family would eat.

Remember that Jesus is talking about His relationship with sinners and tax collectors. I want to share with you a couple of points about this parable, to help you understand it possibly in a way that you’ve never thought about before.

1. How was the coin lost?

There’s no arguing that the woman herself lost the coin. Maybe it was through stupidity, carelessness or even neglect. In either case, the woman was responsible, it was her own fault that the coin was lost. So we can’t blame the coin, because the coin was lost through no direct fault of its own.

And unlike the sheep which we looked at last time, which strayed and became lost through its own stupidity, the coin was completely passive.

In other words, the coin being lost was someone else’s responsibility. And again unlike the sheep, the coin couldn’t wander back. It couldn’t shout out to the woman that it was lost, and when you think about it, it’s a coin, it wouldn’t even realise it was lost.

The point I’m trying to make is that all the searching had to be done by someone else. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, God in the human form of Jesus The Christ came on a search and rescue mission. Luke 19:10.

He came to search for that which was lost and bring them to salvation. And that includes us, that includes every single human being on this planet that’s willing to let Him save them, Titus 2:11.

2. How are people lost?

Now it would be very easy to go off the mark with this parable and make applications that can’t be made. But every person who is lost is lost because of their own sin, but remember that the coin is passive, people aren’t.

No person is lost just because of the sin of someone else. In other words, you’re responsible for your own sins, you can’t go blaming others for your sin, Ezekiel 18:1-4.

But the question is what kind of influence do you have on others?

The influence we have on other people can determine where they spend eternity. Do you realise the power you have to influence people?

Titus tells us how we can influence other saints in the church and those who oppose our teachings, Titus 2:7-8. And Paul reminds us that it’s the church that’s to do the influencing not the world, Ephesians 4:17-19.

In other words, our Christian lifestyles, teachings and beliefs should be the very things that influence the people around us, but we shouldn’t let it happen the other way around.

What did Jesus say about you and salt? You’re not the salt of your church building, you’re not the salt of your house. You know when you look in a salt dish, what do you see? Ah, salt you may say, well what I see when I look around at some Christians, is salt enjoying the company of the same salt.

But Jesus says, you’re not the salt in a salt dish, you’re the salt of the earth, now go and season and influence the people in your world with that salt, Matthew 5:13. Mix with the ungodly salt and influence it until it becomes godly salt.

The word “yeast” used in Bible terms often relates to evil influence, Matthew 16:6. That’s what Jesus meant in Matthew 23:15. But the point I’m trying to get across is that people can influence people. And as Christians, we should influence people for the good but we need to be on our guard against the world influencing us with evil.

And that can come in many different forms, it can come in the form of false teaching. It can come in the form of a lack of church attendance, where it’s not important for you to come to worship regularly. It can come in the form of a tired attitude towards sin.

Because if your influence helps someone to decide to become a Christian, they’re just going to follow your example. They won’t think that the Bible is important if you don’t think it’s important.

They won’t think it’s important to come to worship to meet with other Christians if you don’t think it’s important to come to worship and be with other Christians.

They won’t think it’s all that important to give up some sin in their lives if you don’t think it’s important to give up the sin which is in your life.

But the question is who is influencing whom? When you let the world influence your religion, your religion becomes worthless. Just like the coin in the parable, when a coin is lost, it becomes worthless.

You know when a coin goes out of circulation it still has its basic worth. In other words, 5 pence lost is still worth 5 pence, and 10 pence lost is still worth 10 pence. But any coin that’s out of circulation being unused is worthless. Money is only good when it’s used when it’s circulated.

And what Jesus is teaching us here is that He could see that people could wear the name God and could live the will of God, but yet they were lost to God. Their soul is still worth more than the whole world, but their souls aren’t given to God, they’re lost, Romans 1:18-21.

People are lost and they’re not even bothered about it, and why aren’t they bothered? Because they don’t even recognise they’re lost. A woman loses one coin, so what, what’s a coin?

The world says, “forget it, it’s just a coin.” The Scribes and Pharisees thought that way about sinners. Why be bothered, the lowly, the outcast and the poor, why bother?

A coin may be just a coin and some people may care less but coins have more than their monetary value. Such as this coin was to its owner, she got a lamp and lit it and searched the whole house to find, that which was lost. How keen are we at searching for the lost in the same manner?

She was overwhelmed with joy, finding that lost coin was more important to her than the other 9 coins she didn’t lose. Why? Because they were already safe, she knew exactly where they were, they were in her possession.

God loves us and cares for us and gives us grace and peace and eternal life. But nothing makes Him and His heavenly hosts happier than someone who turns their back on their sinful lifestyle and turns toward God for a godly one, Luke 15:10. Just like when the shepherd brings home the lost sheep, heaven rejoices.

The Parable Of The Lost Son

‘Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.’ Luke 15:11-12

Most people know the parable of “The lost son” pretty well but before we make some applications with this parable, let’s see if we can understand the background to it first. Under Jewish Law, the terms by which a father assigned his inheritance were quite specific.

The law clearly stated that the first-born son was to receive a double portion, Deuteronomy 21:17. In other words, two-thirds of the father’s property went to his firstborn son, and so the son who went away in the parable only owned one-third of it.

And very often during Biblical times, a person didn’t have to wait until their father died to get their inheritance, the father just gave them their share of his possessions before he died.

The younger son demanded his share of the inheritance from his father, he couldn’t wait, he wanted his inheritance right there and then.

The younger son in the parable didn’t speak to anyone about his decision and make no mistake about it, his request was callous and heartless.

Because basically what he’s saying to his father is, “give me now the part of my estate that I’m going get when you’re dead anyway.” He’s saying, “give it to me now, so that I can get out of here.”

Most children go through a rebellious stage at some point in their lives. Most of them when they’re in their teens and that’s possibly what’s happening here. The younger son feels he’s been the baby of the family for long enough and now it’s time for him to strike out and go it alone.

Now if that were you or I, I’m sure most of us who have kids would certainly strike back. We wouldn’t let them go without a moral lecture, but I want you to notice how the father deals with the situation. He didn’t argue with him, he didn’t try to persuade his son otherwise, he simply let him go.

But why? Why didn’t he give him a moral lecture like so many of us would do? Why did he simply let him go?

Well, he let him go simply because he knew his son sell well enough to know that if his son was ever going to learn anything, he was going to have to learn the hard way. That’s why he gave in to his request, and some people are like that, they will never learn until they learn the hard way.

“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs.” Luke 15:13-15

He squandered all his money, he was starving and he was desperate, and desperate times call for desperate measures. We might be thinking, well at least when times were hard for him he got a job working with pigs. Well, let me tell you, what you think of a pig is totally opposite to what the Jews thoughts about pigs.

In Leviticus 11:1-8 when God is speaking to Moses about unclean animals, he gives a list of animals they cannot eat, and a pig is one of them, it is an unclean animal, Leviticus 11:7.

To you and I, working with a pig is no big deal but to a Jew, a pig was an unclean animal, this was lower than low. To this guy, this was the most degrading and humiliating task possible. But despite his job, he’s still starving and lonely and nobody would help.

“He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!”   Luke 15:16-17

He knew he was better off at home because his father would take care of his needs. When things weren’t going to plan, he ended up in a pigpen and then he realised what was happening.

And there’s a great lesson for the church here, isn’t there? We can’t force people to stay faithful, we can’t make Christians go to worship and attend all the Bible studies.

Sometimes, we need to let people go and learn from their mistakes so that they can come to their senses, and see what they had when they were in fellowship and let them see that they have made a mistake. The younger brother realised he was better off at home, he knew that there would be food at home.

He even knew that his father’s servants would have food leftover. He already had it all worked out what he would say to his father when he got back home.

“I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father.” Luke 15:18-20

Now, this took courage, this was true humility that the younger brother showed here. Because he intended to ask his father to take him back as a hired servant, not as a son.

And you need to realise that there’s a difference between a hired servant and an ordinary servant. The ordinary servant was in some sense a member of the family, but the hired servant could be dismissed at a day’s notice.

He wasn’t part of the family at all because a hired servant only worked one day at a time. He had no guarantee of employment and as we know, he lived on the edge of starvation.

Think about what he’s done and doing? He left home as a prince and he’s willing to return as a lowly labourer. He didn’t just get a few things like an inheritance, his father was rich.

He had full-time servants and part-time servants and that was a sign of wealth back then. It was time for humility, time for submission, time for swallowing his pride.

Let’s take a closer look at what he did.

1. “He came to his senses.” Luke 15:17.

In other words, he was out of his mind when he left his home, and it’s only now that he truly sees himself for the first time. It’s never easy taking a close look at yourself because sometimes what you see is some very scary facts about your life. But when he comes to his senses, that’s the point at which he is starting his return to his father.

2. “He will set out and go.” Luke 15:18.

That was the decision that he had pushed furthest to the back of his mind, but now that he saw himself more clearly, he saw his father in a different light. And let me tell you when you look at yourself clearly, your opinions of the people around you change too, don’t they?

3. “He got up and went.” Luke 15:20.

He didn’t hesitate, he just got up and went. There was no thinking time between the saying and doing. Nothing was going to change his mind, nothing was going to tempt him to stay away.

And when you think about it there are many people in the world today who aren’t Christians who are caught between the saying and the doing.

4. “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” Luke 15:21.

Here’s his confession, in other words when he reached a decision to return to his father, he already had his confession prepared. But notice his confession, there’s no messing around with his words, there are no excuses for what he had done. He speaks the truth, “’Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.”

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.” Luke 15:20-24

Notice the Father’s reactions to His returning son. That’s the example the church has to follow. No moral lectures, no making them people feel inferior when they return, just pure joy.

In the parables of “The lost sheep, The lost coin and The lost son”, Jesus teaches us a great deal about mankind. Jesus teaches us that men are lost. And it’s interesting that Jesus very seldom called men “sinners”, but rather he spoke of them as being lost.

When Jesus is sending out the twelve, He tells them not to go to the Gentiles or any Samaritan towns, but He tells them in Matthew 10:6 “Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.”

When Jesus’ disciples were being harassed by a woman who had a demon-possessed girl, Jesus said in Matthew 15:24 “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”

Jesus isn’t saying that He counted them as moral wretches or outlaws in headstrong rebellion against God. But it was simply that men were misguided and disillusioned and needed to get back on the right road.

And people are still like that today, aren’t they?

They are lost like “the sheep” described in Luke 15:3-7. They don’t revolt against God, they don’t fight against His church, they simply slip away from Him step by step, Hebrews 2:1. Many people do drift away, they slip away with the tide of the world and become spiritually numb.

People are also like “the coin” described in Luke 15:8-10. Although there’s a difference between coins and people, the coin was lost through no fault of its own.

But with men there’s always the responsibility of choice that governs their destiny, so the coin was lost in a sense that man could never be. But many people’s lives are wrecked and it’s true that this may not always be because of their own fault, but because of the faults of other men.

And finally, men are like “the lost son,” which we’re studying today. We all know that “self” is the root of sin and it’s the downfall of many a soul. Many people deliberately, with their eyes wide open forsake the Lord and go off on their own.

This is the essence of sin, the desire to please “self” despite its consequences, to do what one wants to do, regardless of the feelings of others. Instead of pursuing the will of God, they pursue the will of “self”.

Let’s take another look at the younger son, he was lost but he also lost some other things.

1. He lost the fellowship of his father and the comfort of his home.

Think about it, he had lived in the best house, with the best servants to wait on him, he had the best father a son could ever have. But all of these things meant nothing to him until he was left friendless in a strange land. And although he knew what his father was like, when he was in a far off country in a pigpen, they were out of reach.

2. He lost something else too, he lost his self-esteem.

He left home full of self-esteem and confidence and ended up working in a field with some pigs. He threw away his family because of his pride and ended up sleeping with pigs.

Have you ever been to a strange country or place where you don’t know anyone? Well, that’s what he felt like, unknown and unheeded and unwanted in a far off country.

3. He also lost everything he had, Luke 15:14.

It’s amazing how the inheritance that he received so easily, was so easily squandered. Easy come, easy go as some may say. He lost it all, he lost everything. He had no real friends, no real pleasures, no real freedom, no real independence and no real pride, he lost everything.

Now he’s in a mess and I wonder how the church would deal with someone who went off and lived like this and then came to their senses and came back home?

The shepherd with the sheep, the woman with the coin, the father with the son, was filled with uncontrollable joy when they gained again what had been lost.

And that’s because God is kind and He’s more understanding than we are. And He feels deep in His heart the joy of joys when one wanderer returns home.

And then we come to the part of the parable that I don’t like. I wished I could just leave it there in Luke 15:24 because that’s a happy ending.

But sadly I’m not the author and thank God for that because I think there are some serious lessons we can learn from this older brother’s reactions, the older son was saved but lost.

“Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ “The older brother became angry and refused to go in.” Luke 15:25-28

You see, the older brother was a self-righteous kind of man and he could find nothing good in the life of his brother, everything his brother had done was bad.

But as for him, he was proud of himself and proud of his life. He was very proud and he was very much like the Pharisees who started Jesus off with these parables by accusing Him of receiving sinners, Luke 15:1-2.

But the older brother was so jealous, that he wouldn’t even go inside and greet his brother but decided to stay outside the house and sulk. But most of all, the older brother was just pure heartless. He’s so heartless that he would probably die and have the words, ‘what are you looking at?’ on his gravestone.

He wasn’t happy at all that his brother had come home, he would probably be happier if he had been beaten up and forgotten about. And that was the attitude of the older brother, “who wants him back!” He was jealous and heartless and all he cared about was himself.

And let me ask you, how did he know his brother was with prostitutes? Because there’s no mention of prostitutes until he mentions them. Maybe he suspected that’s what he did and maybe he accused his brother of those sins because he himself would have liked to commit those sins.

Even when his father says to him “My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.” In other words, your brother has squandered all he had, but you’ve still got your inheritance. It’s twice as much as your brother had. But he still didn’t want to listen, he was hurting himself without realising it.

Now he’s not thinking straight, he needs to come to his senses. Even when his father tells him, “that they had to celebrate and be glad because his brother was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”

Even then, his anger took hold of him. He just couldn’t see that if his father had gained a son, he had gained a brother. His whole attitude shows us that his years of obedience to his father had been years of grim duty and not loving service. There’s not a sympathetic bone in his body.

And notice that he refers to his brother, not as “My brother” but as “Your son.”. This man would have no problems kicking you down under the gutter when you’re already lying on top of it.

The lesson from this parable is severe. You don’t necessarily have to go on a long journey in order to leave God. You can stay at home and not know your father and not know your father’s heart. And so you can be lost at home, just as you can be lost anywhere else in the world.

God’s attitude is seen in the diligent search of the shepherd and of the woman in the other two parables I mentioned earlier. Because it’s one thing to accept a sinner but it’s another thing to go out and look for them.

It’s one thing to go out and look for them but it’s another thing to know that they’re diseased with sin and they would probably let you down anyway.

Once again Jesus is revealing an amazing truth here, and the truth is that it is easier to confess to God than it is to many a man. The truth is that God is far more merciful in His judgements than we will ever be with our fellow man.

The truth is that the love of God is far broader than the love we have for each other. The truth is that God can forgive people even when people refuse to forgive each other.

And when you’re faced with a love like that, then you too will be lost in wonder, lost in love and lost in praise. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who started Jesus off with these parables would have said, “who cares it’s just one lost sheep.” Jesus would say, “rejoice with me, I have found my lost sheep.”

The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law would have said, “what’s a coin, it’s worthless anyway.” Jesus would say, “rejoice with me I have found my lost coin.” The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law would have said, “cancel the party, my brother’s home.”

Jesus would say and still says today, “we had to celebrate and be glad because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.'” That’s love, that’s forgiveness, that’s worth rejoicing.

Go To Luke 16