Yesterday there was a discussion about the people who are lost in the world, and why Christians are supposed to be Gods ambassadors to the world that has strayed from him . We were reading from Lk 15, the 3 parables of Jesus

1. Parable of the Lost Sheep
2. Parable of the Lost Coin
3. Parable Of the Prodigal Son

Initially they felt that the Parables had no relations with each other, but in my opinion. They are not just related, but Jesus is trying to build on the concepts already learnt in the previous parable. If A Christian were to master this, he will have a deeper understanding of the love of God.

Before we begin reading the chapters, let us remind ourselves of the Gods love for the world. Which is spoken by Jesus in John 3:16

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” – Jesus (John 3:16)

Once there was someone who asked me, how much does God love us? And I shared with him the words of Apostle Paul

“For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Paul (Rom 8:6-8)

Then, some of us may wonder, well.. whats so precious about a sinner? In fact, we are not the only one who had this question. Many Pharisees and Scribes posted this question to Jesus. (Lk 15:1-2)

During the time of Jesus, the Pharisees and Scribes are the religious leaders of the time, they are very well verse in the Law of Moses, and they are being respected whenever they go. Such respect are often denied to Tax Collectors. Who are viewed as helpers of the Roman Empire to exploit the local populace.. There are many tax collectors who became rich by forcing the people to play 2-4 times the tax they are suppose to be collecting (Lk 3:12-13, Lk 19:8-10). Thus arousing the hatred of the people against them.

To the eyes if the Pharisees and Scribes, these people deserve to go to hell for what they have done and do not deserve God. Jesus, being a teacher who teach the truth with love, started to share the parables before them.

Personally, the explanation of the parables are purely my interpretation of the words of Jesus, I would love to receive comments from others .

1. Parable of the Lost Sheep (Lk 15:1-7)
Note: Jesus use this parable twice, once to address the Scribes and Pharisees in Luke 15, The second time address to his disciples, which was used to answer the question “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”(Matt 18:1). I do not know the order which is first or second. Perhaps someone might want to comment.

 

 

Jesus was talking about a shepherd who had 100 sheep, grazing safely in the hills. When he realised that 1 of the sheep is missing, he went on great lengths to search of the sheep, he retraces his steps, until he found his poor sheep out in the open. When he found it, he carried the sheep on its shoulders (Lk 15:5) and return rejoicing. In fact he was so happy, that he called together all his friends and neighbours to celebrate because he found his lost sheep. (Lk 15:6)

As a conclusion Jesus shared that there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner that repents vs having 99 who does not need repentance.

Who are the Parable Characters representing?
1. The Shepherd is God himself (Ps 23:1, Jn 10:11)
2. The Lost sheep can refers to the sinners of the world, who do not know God, or his love (Lk 15:2)
Here it specifically refers to the tax collectors and other sinners that are despised by the scribes and pharisees
3. The 99 sheep can refers to
a. Existing believers in God
b. Scribes and Pharisees

What is the parable trying to tell us?

In fact, There is nothing more precious to God then a sinner who repents. God does not like to punish sinners. He will rather that he do not need to execute his judgement and the people repent and do the right things. (Eze 33:11)

1 sinner repenting is worth more than 99 people who are already in the flock of God.

2. Parable of the Lost Coin (Lk 15:8-10 )
This parable is mentioned in Luke and is used as together on the occasion where Jesus was sharing with the scribes and pharisees. To understand this better, perhaps we need to understand why Jesus uses the 10 coins and not 100 coins (as contrasted to 100 sheep). So far there are 2 possibilities

 

1. Whenever a Jewish girl is wedded, she will have a necklace or ornament made up of 10 coins, it is part of the dowry for her wedding
2. The 10 silver coins is roughly Thea day wages of an average worker which is representing family savings.

Personally i am more inclined to agree with the 10 coins refers to the necklace ornament, as that will explains why the lady will put in so much effort to find the lost coin, as well as her joy in finding it.

In this parable, the lady light a lamp, went through great lengths to sweep the house and strains her eyes to find the coin. (Lk 15:8) When she found it, she calls her friend and neighbour to celebrate with her, that she has found the lost coin, (Lk 15:9)

As a conclusion, Jesus said, that the joy of the woman in this parable is similar to joy of the angels of God in heaven over one sinners that repents (Lk 15:10)

Who are the Parable Characters representing?
1. The Woman reference here would refer to God (similar role as the shepherd)
a. Personally i will think the woman can also refer to the church of God because
i. The church is often referred to as the bride of the lamb of God (Rev 19:7)
ii. Believers are often referred to as betrothed to God (2 Cor 11:1-3)
2. 1 Lost coin refers to the lost sinners
a. If using the church as the woman, the 10 coins all refers to members belonging to the church
3. 9 coins referred to the scribes and pharisees

What is the parable trying to tell us?

Similar to the parable of the lost sheep, except now the numbers has decreased 1:9 no longer 1:99
But if I were to use the context of the woman as the church, It can also teach us that we must put in effort to seek out the lost believers in our church.
For any lost members that we managed to bring back will also clause the heavens to rejoice.

The 10 coins to me represent completeness, can we imagine the bride to be married with a necklace of 9 silver coins? would that not look weird. Therefore, only when the 10 coins are all present, can the bride be complete.

3. Parable of the Lost Son (Lk 15:11-31)

This parable was describe in great details by Jesus, with all the characters. It serves as a conclusion from Jesus regarding why he spends so much time with sinners.

Here it mentioned of a father, who had a disobedient son, the son demanded his portion of the inheritance, and left home willingly with all his possession. This broke the fathers heart as inheritance are only divided upon the fathers death. Yet out of the love, the father still gave him his inheritance and let him go. So this son went away ,wasted his inheritance in prodigal living.. until one day, famine strike the land.. he ended up working for someone. He was sent to feed the swines, and he was so hungry, that he wanted to feed himself with the pods that the swine ate.

It was only then he realise how well his father had treated him.. he thinks that he is no longer worthy to be called his son… so he decided to return home, and to asked his dads forgiveness and be his servant. But little did he know that just when he was afar off.. his father, seeing him from a distance came running to him and kiss him. The father gave him his ring, his robes and sandals. He ordered for a fatted calf to be killed and everyone to celebrate.

Then along came the older brother who return.. he got angry and he refuse to come into the house. His father was sad, and he came out to plead with him, the older child replied.

“Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.” (Lk 15:29-30)

That is when the father replied
” Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.” (Lk 15:31)

Who are the Parable Characters representing?
1. The father refers to God, no doubt about it.
2. The younger son refers to all sinners (Esp refer to Christians who left God and have the desire to return to God)
3. The older son refers to the scribes and pharisees

What is the parable trying to tell us?

Similar to the parable of the lost sheep and the lost coin, except now the numbers has decreased 1:1. Here Jesus finally explain the reason for the joy.

The child wanted to go away from the father, this is a very typical scenario we have in church, where people left the church and decided to lead a live away from God. In the context of the tax collectors and sinners, they have chosen to lead a life that is different from what it suppose to be.

Alot of times, we do not know, the sadness of God, and sometimes we can be like the older son, we kept Gods command out of fear, we like the Pharisees, we despise people who have lost their faith. Sometimes I wonder how many times did the older son saw his dad staring at the horizon where his younger brother has gone. I guess, like all humans, he had a resentment to that younger brother. Sometimes we fail to see the heart of God.. that he will rather wish the younger son is back.

For the younger son, I think that there are certain times in our lives that we suddenly decided to stay away from God, thinking that life is better without him.. We wanted to enjoy the world, before one day God comes and destroy it. But alot of times, only when calamity strikes, that is the only time we can think about God goodness. There are people who thinks that, since they have strayed, they are no longer good enough to be Gods child, (Lk 15:17-19), But sometimes that feeling is invoke by the devils to tell us that we no longer qualify for God forgiveness.. which in my opinion is a big lie.

How often does God look out and wait, for his prodigal son to return? How ever willing is he to take the son back and to love him like he always had been.

Lastly, i would also think about the older brother.. Whether do we become judgemental to our brethren who had left the church and finally return? Yes indeed we had been serving God faithfully during the period of their absence.. do we still judge in our hearts that these people are not worthy for salvation?

Let us all have the heart of God, to be willing to accept all sinners to his fold, let us be rejoice like the angels of heaven, whenever we see a sinner returns to God.

As a conclusion, I would like to quote from Elder James

“Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins” – James (Jas 5:19-20)

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