September 4

Prodigal Adjustments, Part 4

Luke 15:4-7 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine…and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.”

Luke 15:8-10 “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!’ Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Luke 15:11 Then [Jesus] said: “A certain man had two sons….”

These first two parables are the context in which we need to read and understand the parable of the “prodigal” son.

In the first, we are placed in a story of someone who loses one sheep out of the hundred he owns. Instead of “writing off” that sheep or being content with the 99 he has, he goes after the lost one. When he finds it, he rejoices and shares the good news with others. The last line of that parable is one that we are clearly encouraged to believe and embrace: “…there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine persons who need no repentance.” This is the heart of God, and shows us how He pursues the lost, us included.

Then we have a woman who has lost a coin. She “sweeps the house, and search[es] carefully until she finds it.” This is what the Lord did with you. This is what the Lord is doing with others. The same call is in both parables: “Rejoice with me, for I have found [that] which was lost.” This joy, this relief—this is what God feels about us when we come to Him. And the “commentary” on the story is nearly identical: “…there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

This is His heart after He continues to go after those that He already considers His. The lost sheep already belonged to the man, and the lost coin already belonged to the woman. Can we catch the heart of God here?

By the time we get to the parable of the waiting father who had two sons, we have a new perspective on the story. This is the third parable about something/someone that was lost. The man had 100 sheep, the woman had 10 coins, and the father had two sons. In the first two, the owner leaves what he has to search out the lost one. In the third, the Father is left behind as the younger son (the only one with free will in the three stories) chooses rebellion and walks away from life. Yet when he returns is described as the others—“he was lost and is found” (v. 32)—the same terminology as the sheep and coin.

As we read and re-read those parables, let’s keep in mind the central character in each, who is the One who seeks that which was lost. That’s our Father, and all three parables are a demonstration of His loving heart.

Prayer: Father, help me to see Your loving, searching heart here. When I step back from all three stories, I see a God who is patient but always seeking us, and one who keeps searching for us when we are lost. Help me, too, to see other connections in Your word that I haven’t seen yet.

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