I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.
In Luke 15 Jesus gives us three parables to illustrate the Father’s love and forbearance. The first parable about the lost sheep shows us how God searches for the lost sheep. You never find a lost sheep looking for the shepherd, but rather the Shepherd looking for the sheep. I love the part about how He searches until He finds it. He does not give up. His Word does not return unto Him void.
In the second parable, of the lost coin, we find how God searches for something that is lost in the church or in the house. No doubt we can be lost in the church as well as without. We need to be with the Shepherd at all times to keep from being lost. When we keep our eyes on other people or even ourselves, we then take our eyes off the Shepherd and become lost. In Psalms 23, David says, “The Lord is my Shepherd.” Shepherd is another word for pastor. David is declaring God as His pastor and no man. We should not worship pastors or elders or Bible workers. We need to worship and keep our eyes on Jesus so we do not get lost in the church. Thank God He can find us in the church. Let’s not be like ancient Israel and demand a man reign over us. Let’s let God reign over us.
The last parable illustrates both a man lost outside the church and a man lost inside the church. Let’s take a good look at this one.
15:11 And he said, A certain man had two sons:
15:12 And the younger of them said to [his] father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth [to me]. And he divided unto them [his] living.
15:13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.
That is so like us! To tell God to give us His blessings but we are going to go live life our own way without Him, but we still want all His gifts. Doesn’t work that way! How many people today tell God I am going to live my own way but I still want you to keep blessing me? Do we even do this corporately sometimes?
15:14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.
15:15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
15:16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.
15:17 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
15:18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,
15:19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.
15:20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
I love this part! While He was still a great way off, His Father ran to Him. In the dark ages, Pope Gregory made a German emperor stand out in the freezing cold with no shoes, for three days before he would hear and forgive him. What a misrepresentation of our heavenly Father who runs to us while we are still a great ways off! Notice, this is the only time we see God run in the Bible. How quick our heavenly Father is to forgive! (Check out this beautiful song about the only time God ran in the Bible.)
15:21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.
15:22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put [it] on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on [his] feet:
Fact is he was not worthy to be called his son before he left. What child earns the right to be a son or daughter? Doesn’t it just go with the territory? It is not because of our works that we are the children of God but because of His love.
15:23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill [it]; and let us eat, and be merry:
15:24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.
15:25 Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing.
15:26 And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant.
15:27 And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.
15:28 And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and entreated him.
Here we have a son who is angry because God is merciful! His refusal to accept the gracefulness of His father leads him to leave the house, or shall I say church?
15:29 And he answering said to [his] father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:
15:30 But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.
That must have hurt the Father’s feelings. All this time the Father thought the son had been working in His house because He was his son and loved him. Turns out he was only working so he could be rewarded. Now that does not sound like us at all does it?
15:31 And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.
All that Father had was already his, not because he had been working all these years, but because the Father loved him and called him His son. The son who never left did not earn the goodness of the Father anymore than the son who left. It’s not about works. It is about love.
15:32 It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.
Jesus does not tell us how the story ends. Maybe because we decide for ourselves how it ends.