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A Lost Sheep, A Lost Coin, A Lost Son

Book Reflection // September 3, 2022

The Parables of Jesus by James Montgomery Boice

Chapter 5 // Luke 15:1-32

Starting with the chapter we are in today, we are moving into a section of parables that Boice collectively refers to as the Parables of Salvation. This section of parables will focus on the different aspects and features of salvation that Jesus relays to us through these particular parables. This passage from Luke may be the most well-known set of three parables that deal with salvation as Jesus talks about a lost sheep, a lost coin, and a lost son. Although these three parables can be studied and considered on their own, they are meant to be taken together to get a more complete picture of the message Jesus is stating. There are four points to consider when looking at these parables together: the value of the lost object, the attitude of the owner/father, the nature of the recovery, and the problem with the older son.

Valuable to God

So often we read and study these parables and only consider their meaning and application to our lives from the standpoint of the lostness of the sinner. We think of the pitiful sheep, the hopeless coin, or the bondage of the son. This is not where Jesus begins. Jesus begins “not with the object’s loss, but with the loss sustained by the owners or father, that is, by God.” It is important to remember that the object that was lost was of extreme value to the person. They were rigorously searching for and determined to recover the lost object. The shepherd did not write off the single lost sheep as the cost of doing business. The woman did not casually move on from the lost coin knowing that she had others in her possession still. The father did not write off his wayward son and focus solely on the one that stayed but he longed for his lost son and his return home. In each case, the owner/father understood the value of the object that was lost. Being lost did not devalue the object, but only stirred up the intention to seek and recover what was lost.

The Seeking God

There is a notion that the three parables taken together display the work and involvement of the trinity in the salvation and recovery of the lost. This may be reading a bit too much into the parables “but the central idea is valid; the entire Godhead is involved in the sinner’s salvation.” This is the point of the parables in that it is a picture of God at work in the seeking, saving, and restoring of the lost ones. Our God is a seeking God and what he seeks he finds. “Taken together, it is an amazing picture of God. He is seen grieving, seeking, finding, and rejoicing.”  It is truly amazing to see the character and emotions of God being portrayed in these parables. We can often get lost in thoughts of the lost person and the joy they have after being found and rescued but look at the intense emotions of God in this story. There will be great rejoicing in heaven when even a single person turns to Christ in humble repentance.

Life From the Dead

The third point from these parables focuses on the nature of the recovery. Meaning that the lost son was not only lost but was considered dead. There was a necessary and needed spiritual resurrection in his heart to bring him to his senses and before returning to his father. This return involved three steps. First, the lost son had to be awakened to his true condition. In his lostness, he was blinded to the miserable state he was in and it was not until he recognized this lie that he truly saw his reality. Second, there was an honest confession of sin. Not a defensive confession, but he actually took responsibility for his sin and understood that he was sinning against God alone. Third, he had to return to his father. It wasn’t enough for the son to just think about and confess his sin, he actually had to leave his sin and return to his father.

Like God or Like Satan?

There are a lot of lessons in the part about the brother but the takeaway is that the son that stayed did not have the same interest and mindset as the father. The son that stayed was more worried about his property than he was about people and he had an inflated view of himself and his own importance. It is important that we reflect on this older son’s heart attitude and evaluate our own hearts in this manner. Do we worry more about the things of this world than we do about the multitudes of people who have never heard of Jesus and the gospel? Do we get angry when a “sinner” is saved? That sounds ridiculous to my ears but I know I can fall into that trap of believing that there are some people either beyond saving or who shouldn’t be saved. The gospel is for each and every person. The vilest of sinners are in need of the gospel just as much as I am. It’s not until I understand that I am that vile sinner in need of the grace of Christ that I will rejoice over every heart that is rescued from the wrath of God. “We are never so like God as when we rejoice at the salvation of sinners.”

But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.

Luke 15:32
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