The Three Parables of Luke 15
Luke 15 includes three parables that illustrate what happens when something is separated from the group to which it belongs. It is interesting how Jesus told the parables about three different groups when one thing or person went missing.
- The first is the Parable of the Lost Sheep about one sheep missing from a herd of 100.
- The second is the Parable of the Lost Coin where one coin was lost from a collection of 10.
- The last is the Parable of the Prodigal Son where one in a family leaves and the family unit is left incomplete.
In all of the parables, someone or something goes missing. There is great joy when what was lost was found and took it rightful place in the group.
Go After the Lost Sheep
The story of the lost sheep is found in Luke 15:4-7. When the sheep left the 99, it didn't know it would get lost. It probably got tired of being one of 100. It wanted its own space. It wanted to see what else was outside of the fold. Therefore, it ran away, and it got lost and didn't know how to return.
Sometimes, church members are like sheep who have gone astray. They want to see if the grass is greener on the other side of their own church. While they are out looking for something better, they get lost.
When the shepherd found the one sheep missing, he left the 99 and went after it. He joyfully put it on his shoulders and took it back to the fold where it was safe and was no longer lost.
The shepherds of the churches today don't do that, but they should go out and find the lost sheep.
Find the Lost Coin
Only three verses record the story of the Lost Coin (Luke 15:8-10). A coin was lost through no fault of its own. Unlike the sheep, it did not run away from the other coins.
By the way, the Bible calls it a coin, but it was not money like a penny, nickel, dime, or quarter. It was one of ten charms on a bracelet that the woman's husband had given her for a present. She needed to find it before he came home.
The woman lit a lamp, swept the house and searched carefully until she found it. She called her friends and neighbors to help look for it. No one would go to that extreme over something that was not valuable.
The coin was out of circulation because it was not where it was supposed to be. The one coin represents members who are absent from the church. Church officials should know who are not in regular attendance and seek to find out why they are no longer in circulation.
Receive the Lost Son
The prodigal son returned to his father's house after he had squandered all his inheritance, according to Luke 15:11-24. He ended up eating with the pigs. Then he thought of being home in the comforts of his father's house.
He rehearsed what he was going to say to his father. His father saw him from afar and ran to meet him. He was filled with compassion and threw his arms around his son and kissed him.
The son said he sinned against his father and heaven. He confessed he was no longer worthy to be called his father's son. The father responded by getting the servant to put the best robe on him, a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. He instructed them to kill the fattest calf because they were going to celebrate the return of his younger son.
The father's house had everything the son needed. It was his place with food when he was perishing with hunger. That's the way the church should be. It should be a place to "feed" people and a place of refuge for those who are lost in the world.
The Older Brother in the Parable of the Prodigal Son
People don't talk much about the elder son who stayed home and worked on the farm, according to Luke 15:25-32.
The brother of the prodigal son was lost even though he was home. He was self-righteous and was angry when his younger brother returned home and his father took him back.
The older brother became angry and refused to go in to join the celebration that included music and dancing. So his father went out and pleaded with him. He said to his father, "‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!" His father explained to him that everything he had the older son had.
Because he had stayed with his father, he thought he deserved the celebration because he had done so much out of obligation.
The shepherd of the church should realize that everyone in the church needs attention and respect. They should not take it for granted that everyone is satisfied just because they stay and work in the church. No one should be overlooked. People should be treated as if they are valuable because they are.