Luke 15

Luke 15 finds Jesus again being challenged on what He is up to.  This time it was “tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear Him”.  He was hanging out with the wrong people according to the religious leaders.  They couldn’t understand and said “this man receives sinners and eats with them”.  Who do you hang out with?  Is it the frozen chosen or people from church?  Or do you get involved with those outside, who the church doesn’t feel comfortable with because they are not church folk?  It seems we have a struggle loving people that are outside the norm don’t we?  We want them to be just like us, sit in the pew like we do, and sing the same songs.  But that is not the example Jesus gave us.  He went were the sinners were – where the people were – and He ministered to their needs.  He gives a parable of the lost sheep and the lost coin.  Here is the result of finding something that was lost: “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance… there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents”.  Does God care about those who are lost?  You bet He does.  He is equally concerned about those who are not in the pew as those who are.  God wants us all to be in relationship with Him.  He wants us all to be saved.

Luke gives us one of the most known stories of scripture in this chapter as well – the Prodigal Son.  You will recall that one of the sons asked for his inheritance so he could go see the world.  He “squandered his property in reckless living… he had spent everything”.  So his life was now feeding pigs, not a very glamorous way to earn a living.  “When he came to himself” things began to get clearer to him.  He knew he had screwed up and that it was time to eat some humble pie and go back home.  This independence thing was not really working out so well.  So he said “I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants”.   Isn’t it amazing how a little real world can change your perspective?  It looked so fun and easy until he got out there all alone and failed.  So the real meat of the story is how his dad and brother responded.  “While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him’.  He was watching for his son to come back.  Did he know he would struggle and fail?  He probably had a pretty good idea – parents often do. But he didn’t say I told you so and tell him too bad, so sad.  He ran out to greet him.  But more than that, dad quickly got the entire household involved. “Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate”.  Overkill?  Not if we listened to Jesus lessons earlier in this chapter.  When one who is lost is found, it is time for celebration.  And they did – at least most of them.  The brother “was angry and refused to go in”.  Why?  In simple terms – it wasn’t fair.  After all he had stayed home and worked hard and been responsible.  This lousy brother of his spent all his money playing around and now comes back and gets equal or better treatment.  How does that work?  We have to remember what Jesus taught us earlier.  “For this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost and is found”.  God cares about those who are lost.  Do you?  Or are you caught up in what is fair.  They are bad people so they can’t sit in my church.  Grace covers all things.  God is in the business of giving grace to any who will receive Him.  We must be too!

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