Luke Chapter Fifteen
Having thus unfolded the difference in character between the two dispensations, and the circumstances of the transition from the one to the other, the Lord turns (chap. 15) to higher principles-the sources of the one that was brought in by grace.
It is indeed a contrast between the two, as well as the chapters we have been going through. But this contrast rises to its glorious source in God's own grace, contrasted with the miserable self-righteousness of man.
The publicans and sinners draw near to hear Jesus. Grace had its true dignity to those who needed it. Self-righteousness repulsed that which was not as contemptible as itself, and God Himself at the same time in His nature of love. The Pharisees and the scribes murmured against Him who was a witness of this grace in fulfilling it.
I cannot meditate on this chapter, which has been the joy of so many souls, and the subject of so many testimonies to grace, from the time that the Lord pronounced it, without enlarging upon grace, perfect in its application to the heart. Nevertheless I must confine myself here to great principles, leaving their application to those who preach the word. This is a difficulty that constantly presents itself in this portion of the word.
First, the great principle which the Lord exhibits, and on which He founds the justification of God's dealings (sad state of heart that requires it! marvellous grace and patience that gives it!)-the great principle, I repeat, is that God finds His own joy in shewing grace. What an answer to the horrid spirit of the Pharisees who made it an objection!
It is the Shepherd who rejoices when the sheep is found, the woman when the piece of money is in her hand, the Father when His child is in His arms. What an expression of that which God is! How truly is Jesus the one to make it known! It is on this that all the blessing of man can alone be founded. It is in this that God is glorified in His grace.
But there are two distinct parts in this grace-the love that seeks, and the love with which one is received. The first two parables describe the former character of this grace. The shepherd seeks his sheep, the woman her piece of money: the sheep and the piece of silver are passive. The shepherd seeks (and the woman also) until he finds, because he has an interest in the matter. The sheep, wearied with its wanderings, has not to take one step in returning. The shepherd lays it on his shoulders and carries it home. He takes the whole charge, happy to recover his sheep. This is the mind of heaven, whatever the heart of man on earth may be. It is the work of Christ, the Good Shepherd. The woman sets before us the pains which God takes in His love; so that it is more the work of the Spirit, which is represented by that of the woman. The light is brought-she sweeps the house until she finds the piece she had lost. Thus God acts in the world, seeking sinners. The hateful and hating jealousy of self-righteousness finds no place in the mind of heaven, where God dwells, and produces, in the happiness that surrounds Him, the reflex of His own perfections.
But although neither the sheep nor the piece of silver does anything towards its own recovery, there is a real work wrought in the heart of one who is brought back; but this work, necessary as it is for the finding or even the seeking of peace, is not that on which the peace is grounded. The return and the reception of the sinner are therefore described in the third parable. The work of grace, accomplished solely by the power of God, and complete in its effects, is presented to us in the first two. Here the sinner returns, with sentiments which we will now examine-sentiments produced by grace, but which never rise to the height of the grace manifested in his reception until he has returned.
First his estrangement from God is depicted. While as guilty at the moment that he crosses the paternal threshold, in turning his back upon his father, as when he eats husks with the swine, man, deceived by sin, is here presented in the last state of degradation to which sin conducts him. Having expended all that fell to him according to nature, the destitution in which he finds himself (and many a soul feels the famine which it has brought itself into, the emptiness of all around without a desire after God or holiness, and often into what is degrading in sin) does not incline him towards God, but leads him to seek a resource in that which Satan's country (where nothing is given) can supply; and he finds himself among the swine. But grace operates; and the thought of the happiness of his father's house, and of the goodness that blessed all around it, awakes in his heart. Where the Spirit of God works, there are always two things found, conviction in the conscience and the attraction of the heart. It is really the revelation of God to the soul, and God is light and He is love; as light, conviction is produced in the soul, but as love there is the attraction of goodness, and truthful confession is produced. It is not merely that we have sinned, but that we have to do with God and desire to have, but fear because of what He is, yet are led to go. So the woman in chapter 7. (See page 240.) So Peter in the boat. This produces the conviction that we are perishing, and a sense, feeble it may be, yet true, of the goodness of God and the happiness to be found in His presence, although we may not feel sure of being received; and we do not remain in the place where we are perishing. There is the sense of sin, there is humiliation; the sense that there is goodness in God; but not the sense of what the grace of God really is. Grace attracts-one goes towards God, but one would be satisfied to be received as a servant-a proof that, though the heart be wrought in by grace, it has not yet met God. Progress, moreover, although real, never gives peace. There is a certain rest of heart in going; but one does not know what reception to expect, after having been guilty of forsaking God. The nearer the prodigal son drew to the house, the more would his heart beat at the thought of meeting his father. But the father anticipates his coming, and acts towards him, not according to his son's deserts, but according to his own heart as a father-the only measure of the ways of God towards us. He is on his son's neck while the latter is still in rags, before he has had time to say, "Make me as one of thy hired servants." It was no longer time to say it. It belonged to a heart anticipating how it would be received, not to one who had met God. Such an one knows how it has been received. The prodigal arranges to say it (as people speak of an humble hope, and a low place); but though the confession is complete when he arrives, he does not then say, Make me a hired servant. How could he? The father's heart had decided his position by its own sentiments, by its love towards him, by the place his heart had given him towards himself. The father's position decided that of the son. This was between himself and his son; but this was not all. He loved his son, even as he was, but he did not introduce him into the house in that condition. The same love that received him as a son will have him enter the house as a son, and as the son of such a father should be. The servants are ordered to bring the best robe and put it on him. Thus loved, and received by love, in our wretchedness, we are clothed with Christ to enter the house. We do not bring the robe: God supplies us with it. It is an entirely new thing; and we become the righteousness of God in Him. This is heaven's best robe. All the rest have part in the joy, except the self righteous man, the true Jew. The joy is the joy of the father, but all the house shares it. The elder son is not in the house. He is near it, but he will not come in. He will have nothing to do with the grace that makes the poor prodigal the subject of the joy of love. Nevertheless, grace acts; the fathergoes out and entreats him to come in. It is thus that God acted, in the Gospel, towards the Jew. Yet man's righteousness, which is but selfishness and sin, rejects grace. But God will not give up His grace. It becomes Him. God will be God; and God is love.
It is this which takes the place of the pretensions of the Jews, who rejected the Lord, and the accomplishment of the promises in Him.
That which gives peace, and characterises our position, is not the sentiments wrought in our hearts, although they indeed exist, but those of God Himself.
── John Darby《Synopsis of Luke》
Parables of the lost sheep, and the piece of silver. (1-10) The prodigal son, his wickedness and distress. (11-16) His repentance and pardon. (17-24) The elder brother offended. (25-32)
Commentary on Luke 15:1-10
(Read Luke 15:1-10)
The parable of the lost sheep is very applicable to the great work of man's redemption. The lost sheep represents the sinner as departed from God, and exposed to certain ruin if not brought back to him, yet not desirous to return. Christ is earnest in bringing sinners home. In the parable of the lost piece of silver, that which is lost, is one piece, of small value compared with the rest. Yet the woman seeks diligently till she finds it. This represents the various means and methods God makes use of to bring lost souls home to himself, and the Saviour's joy on their return to him. How careful then should we be that our repentance is unto salvation!
Commentary on Luke 15:11-16
(Read Luke 15:11-16)
The parable of the prodigal son shows the nature of repentance, and the Lord's readiness to welcome and bless all who return to him. It fully sets forth the riches of gospel grace; and it has been, and will be, while the world stands, of unspeakable use to poor sinners, to direct and to encourage them in repenting and returning to God. It is bad, and the beginning of worse, when men look upon God's gifts as debts due to them. The great folly of sinners, and that which ruins them, is, being content in their life-time to receive their good things. Our first parents ruined themselves and all their race, by a foolish ambition to be independent, and this is at the bottom of sinners' persisting in their sin. We may all discern some features of our own characters in that of the prodigal son. A sinful state is of departure and distance from God. A sinful state is a spending state: wilful sinners misemploy their thoughts and the powers of their souls, mispend their time and all their opportunities. A sinful state is a wanting state. Sinners want necessaries for their souls; they have neither food nor raiment for them, nor any provision for hereafter. A sinful state is a vile, slavish state. The business of the devil's servants is to make provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof, and that is no better than feeding swine. A sinful state is a state constant discontent. The wealth of the world and the pleasures of the senses will not even satisfy our bodies; but what are they to precious souls! A sinful state is a state which cannot look for relief from any creature. In vain do we cry to the world and to the flesh; they have that which will poison a soul, but have nothing to give which will feed and nourish it. A sinful state is a state of death. A sinner is dead in trespasses and sins, destitute of spiritual life. A sinful state is a lost state. Souls that are separated from God, if his mercy prevent not, will soon be lost for ever. The prodigal's wretched state, only faintly shadows forth the awful ruin of man by sin. Yet how few are sensible of their own state and character!
Commentary on Luke 15:17-24
(Read Luke 15:17-24)
Having viewed the prodigal in his abject state of misery, we are next to consider his recovery from it. This begins by his coming to himself. That is a turning point in the sinner's conversion. The Lord opens his eyes, and convinces him of sin; then he views himself and every object, in a different light from what he did before. Thus the convinced sinner perceives that the meanest servant of God is happier than he is. To look unto God as a Father, and our Father, will be of great use in our repentance and return to him. The prodigal arose, nor stopped till he reached his home. Thus the repenting sinner resolutely quits the bondage of Satan and his lusts, and returns to God by prayer, notwithstanding fears and discouragements. The Lord meets him with unexpected tokens of his forgiving love. Again; the reception of the humbled sinner is like that of the prodigal. He is clothed in the robe of the Redeemer's righteousness, made partaker of the Spirit of adoption, prepared by peace of conscience and gospel grace to walk in the ways of holiness, and feasted with Divine consolations. Principles of grace and holiness are wrought in him, to do, as well as to will.
Commentary on Luke 15:25-32
(Read Luke 15:25-32)
In the latter part of this parable we have the character of the Pharisees, though not of them alone. It sets forth the kindness of the Lord, and the proud manner in which his gracious kindness is often received. The Jews, in general, showed the same spirit towards the converted Gentiles; and numbers in every age object to the gospel and its preachers, on the same ground. What must that temper be, which stirs up a man to despise and abhor those for whom the Saviour shed his precious blood, who are objects of the Father's choice, and temples of the Holy Ghost! This springs from pride, self-preference, and ignorance of a man's own heart. The mercy and grace of our God in Christ, shine almost as bright in his tender and gentle bearing with peevish saints, as his receiving prodigal sinners upon their repentance. It is the unspeakable happiness of all the children of God, who keep close to their Father's house, that they are, and shall be ever with him. Happy will it be for those who thankfully accept Christ's invitation.
── Matthew Henry《Concise Commentary on Luke》
 And he spake this parable unto them, saying,
He spake — Three parables of the same import: for the sheep, the piece of silver, and the lost son, all declare (in direct contrariety to the Pharisees and scribes) in what manner God receiveth sinners.
 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?
Leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness — Where they used to feed: all uncultivated ground, like our commons, was by the Jews termed wilderness or desert.
And go after — In recovering a lost soul, God as it were labours. May we not learn hence, that to let them alone who are in sin, is both unchristian and inhuman! Matthew 18:12.
 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.
Joy shall be — Solemn and festal joy, in heaven - First, in our blessed Lord himself, and then among the angels and spirits of just men, perhaps informed thereof by God himself, or by the angels who ministered to them.
Over one sinner — One gross, open, notorious sinner, that repenteth - That is, thoroughly changed in heart and life; more than over ninety and nine just persons - Comparatively just, outwardly blameless: that need not such a repentance - For they need not, cannot repent of the sins which they never committed. The sum is, as a father peculiarly rejoices when an extravagant child, supposed to be utterly lost, comes to a thorough sense of his duty; or as any other person who has recovered what he had given up for gone, has a more sensible satisfaction in it, than in several other things equally valuable, but not in such danger: so do the angels in heaven peculiarly rejoice in the conversion of the most abandoned sinners. Yea, and God himself so readily forgives and receives them, that he may be represented as having part in the joy.
 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.
Give me the part of goods that falleth to me — See the root of all sin! A desire of disposing of ourselves; of independency on God!
 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.
He took a journey into a far country — Far from God: God was not in all his thoughts: And squandered away his substance - All the grace he had received.
 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.
He began to be in want — All his worldly pleasures failing, he grew conscious of his want of real good.
 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
And he joined himself to a citizen of that country — Either the devil or one of his children, the genuine citizens of that country which is far from God.
He sent him to feed swine — He employed him in the base drudgery of sin.
 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.
He would fain have filled his belly with the husks — He would fain have satisfied himself with worldly comforts. Vain, fruitless endeavour!
 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
And coming to himself — For till then he was beside himself, as all men are, so long as they are without God in the world.
 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,
I will arise and go to my father — How accurately are the first steps of true repentance here pointed out! Against Heaven - Against God.
 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
And he arose and came to his father — The moment he had resolved, he began to execute his resolution.
While he was yet a great way off, his father saw him — Returning, starved, naked.
 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:
But the father said — Interrupting him before he had finished what he intended to say. So does God frequently cut an earnest confession short by a display of his pardoning love.
 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:
Let us be merry — Both here, and wherever else this word occurs, whether in the Old or New Testament, it implies nothing of levity, but a solid, serious, religious, heartfelt joy: indeed this was the ordinary meaning of the word two hundred years ago, when our translation was made.
 Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing.
The elder son seems to represent the Pharisees and scribes, mentioned Luke 15:2.
 And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.
Thy father hath killed the fatted calf — Perhaps he mentions this rather than the robe or ring, as having a nearer connection with the music and dancing.
 And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him.
He was angry, and would not go in — How natural to us is this kind of resentment!
 And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:
Lo, so many years do I serve thee — So he was one of the instances mentioned Luke 15:7. How admirably therefore does this parable confirm that assertion! Yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends - Perhaps God does not usually give much joy to those who never felt the sorrows of repentance.
 And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.
Thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine — This suggests a strong reason against murmuring at the indulgence shown to the greatest of sinners. As the father's receiving the younger son did not cause him to disinherit the elder; so God's receiving notorious sinners will be no loss to those who have always served him; neither will he raise these to a state of glory equal to that of those who have always served him, if they have, upon the whole, made a greater progress in inward as well as outward holiness.
 It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.
This thy brother was dead, and is alive — A thousand of these delicate touches in the inspired writings escape an inattentive reader. In Luke 15:30, the elder son had unkindly and indecently said, This thy son. The father in his reply mildly reproves him, and tenderly says, This thy brother - Amazing intimation, that the best of men ought to account the worst sinners their brethren still; and should especially remember this relation, when they show any inclination to return. Our Lord in this whole parable shows, not only that the Jews had no cause to murmur at the reception of the Gentiles, (a point which did not at that time so directly fall under consideration,) but that if the Pharisees were indeed as good as they fancied themselves to be, still they had no reason to murmur at the kind treatment of any sincere penitent. Thus does he condemn them, even on their own principles, and so leaves them without excuse. We have in this parable a lively emblem of the condition and behaviour of sinners in their natural state. Thus, when enriched by the bounty of the great common Father, do they ungratefully run from him, Luke 15:12. Sensual pleasures are eagerly pursued, till they have squandered away all the grace of God, Luke 15:13. And while these continue, not a serious thought of God can find a place in their minds. And even when afflictions come upon them, Luke 15:14, still they will make hard shifts before they will let the grace of God, concurring with his providence, persuade them to think of a return, Luke 15:15,16. When they see themselves naked, indigent, and undone, then they recover the exercise of their reason, Luke 15:17. Then they remember the blessings they have thrown away, and attend to the misery they have incurred. And hereupon they resolve to return to their father, and put the resolution immediately in practice, Luke 15:18,19. Behold with wonder and pleasure the gracious reception they find from Divine, injured goodness! When such a prodigal comes to his father, he sees him afar off, Luke 15:20. He pities, meets, embraces him, and interrupts his acknowledgments with the tokens of his returning favour, Luke 15:21. He arrays him with the robe of a Redeemer's righteousness, with inward and outward holiness; adorns him with all his sanctifying graces, and honours him with the tokens of adopting love, Luke 15:22. And all this he does with unutterable delight, in that he who was lost is now found, Luke 15:23,24. Let no elder brother murmur at this indulgence, but rather welcome the prodigal back into the family. And let those who have been thus received, wander no more, but emulate the strictest piety of those who for many years have served their heavenly Father, and not transgressed his commandments.
── John ‘Wesley《Explanatory Notes on Luke》
Luke 15:11~32 Prodigal Son
One of the most beautiful stories of the Scriptures is that of the prodigal son, the youth who left home, got into deep difficulty, wasted his life in riotous living, and ended up in the pigpen.
Dr. J. Vernon McGee once asked, “Do you know the difference between the son in that pigpen and the pig? The difference is that no pig has ever said to himself, ‘I will arise and go to my father.’”
He is right; only sons say that. That is why there will be no condemnation, no rejection by God of his children. All believers, even prodigal sons, are his children, not his enemies. ── Michael P. Green《Illustrations for Biblical Preaching》
Chapter 15. Complete Salvation
All I Have
I. A Shepherd Seeks the Lost Sheep
II. A Woman Searches the Lost Coin
III. A Compassionate Father Receives the Lost Son
── Chih-Hsin Chang《An Outline of The New Testament》
The Lost Sheep (Lk 15:1-7)
1. In previous parables we have seen expressed the Father's desire that
the lost be saved...
a. E.g., "The Wedding Feast" - Mt 22:1-14
b. E.g., "The Great Supper" - Lk 14:15-24
...both of which revealed the Father's desire that many enjoy the
wonderful blessings to be found in His kingdom
2. In the fifteenth chapter of Luke, we find three more parables that
reveal the great love of our Father in heaven...
a. "The Lost Sheep" - Lk 15:1-7
b. "The Lost Coin" - Lk 15:8-10
c. "The Prodigal Son" - Lk 15:11-32
3. These three parables...
a. Were told on the same occasion, in response to murmuring by
Pharisees and scribes
b. Have the same central theme: "The Father's yearning love for the
4. These parables were designed, though...
a. Not just to tell us about the Father's love for the lost
b. But what should be our attitude toward the lost as well!
[The first of these three parables is "The Lost Sheep" (Lk 15:1-7).
As we endeavor to appreciate its full meaning, let's begin by
I. THE SETTING OF THE PARABLE
A. TAX COLLECTORS AND SINNERS DRAW NEAR TO JESUS - Lk 15:1
1. The "tax collectors" (publicans, KJV) were considered
extortioners and traitors by the scribes and Pharisees
a. Extortioners, because they often collected more than was
required, for personal gain
b. Traitors, because while Jews they represented an occupying
2. The "sinners" were other people of bad reputation
a. Perhaps people excommunicated from the synagogues (B. W.
b. Perhaps including harlots, who were known to be receptive
to the preaching of the kingdom - cf. Mt 21:31-32
-- Just as they were interested in hearing what John had to say,
so they were interested in listening to Jesus!
B. THE PHARISEES AND SCRIBES MURMUR ABOUT JESUS RECEIVING SINNERS
- Lk 15:2
1. The "Pharisees" and "scribes" were among the Jewish religious
leaders at that time
2. Jesus had often been seen in the company of "sinners"
a. He selected a tax collector to be one of His disciples, and
did not hesitate to dine with other tax collectors - Lk 5:
b. Sinners would often linger around Him, to the consternation
of the religious elite - Lk 7:36-39
-- Once again, this practice of Jesus associating with sinners
brings a charge against Him
[In response to this "murmuring" by the Pharisees and scribes, Jesus
now tells three parables. The first of which is "The Lost Sheep", and
in verses 4-7 we find....]
II. THE PARABLE ITSELF, AND JESUS' APPLICATION
A. THE PARABLE - Lk 15:4-6
1. To illustrate their own hypocrisy and inconsistency, Jesus
challenges them to consider whether they would do any
different by starting out with: "What man of you..."
2. Any one of them, with a hundred sheep, but one sheep having
a. Would leave the ninety-nine and go after the lost one till
he found it
b. Would bring it home rejoicing
c. And would invite others to rejoice over finding the sheep
that was lost
B. THE APPLICATION BY JESUS - Lk 15:7
1. Just as they would rejoice over finding one lost sheep...
2. So there is more joy in heaven:
a. Over one sinner who repents
b. Than over ninety-nine just persons in no need of repentance
[In this simple parable, Jesus shows the hypocrisy and inconsistency of
those who murmured against Him. But Jesus did much more: He gave us a
glimpse into the heart of God, and His great love for sinners. Also,
what our attitude should be toward sinners as well.
With that in mind, here is a summary of some...]
III. LESSONS TO BE GLEANED FROM THE PARABLE
A. THE LOVE OF GOD FOR THOSE WHO ARE LOST...
1. God's love is a "seeking" love
a. That is, He is not simply waiting for those who are lost to
b. But He has and continues to reach out for those who are
2. As evidence of this...
a. God sent His Son to save the world - Jn 3:16
b. Jesus came to seek and save the lost - Lk 19:10
3. Therefore we should not be surprised to learn that His
disciples are also to be involved in "seeking and saving the
lost" - cf. Mt 28:18-20; Mk 16:15-16
B. THE JOY OF GOD OVER THOSE WHO REPENT...
1. In this parable...
a. Jesus simply says there will be "joy in heaven"
b. The other two parables in this chapter will make it clear
that God rejoices when the lost are saved
2. While God is certainly pleased that "ninety-nine" are
a. There will be "more joy" over one sinner who repents
b. And rightly so, in light of what might have happened if the
"lost" had not been "found"!
3. Implied in all this is the thought that WE should have the
same attitude of love and joy when it comes to the salvation
[Which leads me to one last point that should not be overlooked when
we consider the context in which this parable was told...]
C. THE PRINCIPLE OF SEPARATION DOES NOT MEAN ISOLATION...
1. It is true that Christians are to be "separate" from the world
- cf. 2 Co 6:14-18
a. We must not be "unequally yoked together with unbelievers"
b. We must "come out from among them and be separate"
2. But does this require isolating ourselves from those in the
a. Paul recognized that we could eat with those in the world
- 1 Co 5:9-11
b. He instructed the Corinthians to eat with those in the
world - 1 Co 10:27-29
c. Jesus certainly ate with sinners! - Lk 15:1-2
d. And we cannot be...
1) The salt of the earth unless we mingle with the meat
- cf. Mt 5:13
2) The light of the world unless we shine in darkness
- cf. Mt 5:14
1. Indeed, love for the lost may sometimes mean that we have to...
a. "go into the wilderness" to find the one which is lost - Lk 15:4
b. Put up with those who may "murmur" because of our associating
with sinners - Lk 15:2
2. But if associating with sinners is truly an effort to "seek and save
that which lost"...
a. We are demonstrating the kind of love for the lost displayed by
our Father in heaven, and His Son Jesus Christ
b. We can look forward to the same joy experienced in heaven when
one sinner repents!
And this joy is not limited to those in heaven, or to those involved in
seeking the lost. It is also available to those who are being saved,
as seen in the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch! - cf. Ac 8:35-39
Have you responded to the gospel in the same manner as the Ethiopian
The Lost Coin (Lk 15:8-10)
1. Our previous lesson introduced the context in which this parable is
a. The tax collectors and sinners had drawn near to hear Jesus - Lk
b. The Pharisees and scribes were murmuring because Jesus would
receive them and eat with them - Lk 15:2
c. In response, Jesus told three parables as recorded in Luke 15...
1) "The Lost Sheep" - Lk 15:3-7
2) "The Lost Coin" - Lk 15:8-10
3) "The Prodigal Son" - Lk 15:11-32
3. As noted in the previous lesson...
a. These three parables have the same central theme: "The Father's
yearning love for the lost" (Hendriksen)
b. They also reveal what our own attitude should be toward the lost
[In this lesson, we shall consider the parable of "The Lost Coin" (Lk
15:8-10). Let's begin by reading the parable and then taking a closer
I. THE PARABLE ANALYZED
A. AS TOLD BY JESUS...
1. Any woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin...
a. Will light a lamp, sweep the house, and seek diligently
until she finds it
b. Upon finding it will call her friends and neighbors
together to rejoice with her
2. In similar fashion, there is joy in the presence of the angels
of God over one sinner who repents - Lk 15:8-10
B. SOME BACKGROUND INFORMATION...
1. The silver coin, like the Roman denarius, was equivalent to a
2. The home of the poorer classes was usually small, with dirt
floors and few windows
3. Finding a lost coin in a dark and dusty place would not be
C. WHAT THE PARABLE MEANS...
1. William Hendriksen, in his commentary, relates some
a. That the woman symbolizes the Holy Spirit, supposedly
1) The Son was symbolized in the parable of "Lost Sheep"
2) The Father would be featured in the parable of "The
-- Therefore having the woman represent the Spirit would
complete the trinity
b. That the lamp represents the gospel
c. That the broom signifies the Law
2. But Hendriksen discounts such imaginative allegorizing (as I
a. As with most parables, there is only one point, just one
b. And Jesus' own explanation makes it clear what the parable
is designed to teach
3. This parable reinforces the main point in the previous
a. That there will be "more joy in heaven" over one sinner who
repents - Lk 15:7
b. Here, the expression is "more joy in the presence of the
angels of God" - Lk 15:10
1) Does this mean to say that angels rejoice when a sinner
a) They certainly take a deep interest in our salvation
- 1 Pe 1:10-12; He 1:13-14; Mt 18:10
b) They have been, and will be, involved in carrying out
God's plan of salvation - Lk 2:10-14; Mt 25:31; 2 Th
2) But note that Jesus said "in the presence of the
a) The joy described is in their presence, not in them
b) Who is in their presence? God!
c) He Who dwells in the presence of angles will greatly
rejoice! - cf. Ezek 18:23,32; 33:11; Zeph 3:17; 2 Pe
[Again, this parable's theme is similar to the others in this chapter:
"The Father's yearning love for the lost". Such love is evident by the
joy "in heaven" and "in the presence of angels" when just one sinner
Now for a few thoughts concerning...]
II. THE PARABLE APPLIED
A. WHAT OUR ATTITUDE SHOULD BE TOWARD THE LOST...
1. There are four different attitudes one can assume toward the
a. Hate them (self-righteous individuals may have this
b. Regard them with indifference (some Christians have this
c. Welcome them when they come to you (the Pharisees and
scribes considered Jesus guilty of this one)
d. Seek them
2. From the first two parables and the setting which precipitated
their telling, we learn...
a. Jesus not only "welcomed" them (option "c")
b. He "sought" them! (option "d") - e.g., Lk 19:10 (cf. v.5);
-- So our attitude should be one of both welcoming and seeking
those who are lost!
B. WHAT OUR ATTITUDE SHOULD BE TOWARD THE PENITENT...
1. Both parables ("The Lost Sheep" and "The Lost Coin") describe
the heavenly joy when a sinner repents - Lk 15:7,10
2. What is our attitude when a sinner repents?
a. Are we indifferent? ("Ho hum, so what...")
b. Are we skeptical? ("I wonder if they really repented")
c. Are we judgmental? ("Shame on them for sinning in the
d. Or are we full of joy? ("That's wonderful! Praise be to
-- When a soul repents, it should be an occasion of great joy!
- e.g., 2 Co 7:4-9
1. The parable of "The Lost Coin" should serve to remind us that...
a. God not only welcomes sinners, He goes out of His way to save
b. God rejoices when sinners repent
2. It is important that we posses these same attitudes toward the
a. First, and foremost, because we are to imitate our Father and our
Savior - Ep 5:1-2
b. Secondly, Jesus felt it important enough to tell two parables
that are virtually identical
1) Perhaps for sake of emphasis
2) Perhaps one to strike home to the men ("The Lost Sheep"), and
the other to drive the point home to the women ("The Lost
c. But also, because Jesus went on to tell another parable that will
make the point even stronger!
-- That parable is "The Prodigal Son", which we hope to consider
in our next study.
But if you are in need of repentance, why not answer the call of the
Father who is seeking you today? He calls you through the gospel (2 Th
2:14), and He is calling you into His kingdom and glory (1 Th 2:12).
There will be joy in heaven, and in our own hearts as well!
The Prodigal Son (Lk 15:11-32)
1. With the parable of "The Prodigal Son", Jesus reaches the apex in
His response to the charge against Him by the Pharisees and scribes...
a. Their accusation? "This man receives sinners and eats with
them." - Lk 15:2
b. His response? Three parables in which He illustrates "The
Father's Yearning Love For The Lost" (Hendriksen)...
1) "The Lost Sheep" - Lk 15:3-7
2) "The Lost Coin" - Lk 15:8-10
3) "The Prodigal Son" - Lk 15:11-32
2. The parable of "The Prodigal Son" has been called...
a. "The pearl and crown of all the parables" (Trench)
b. Evangelium in Evangelio (i.e., The Gospel within the Gospel)
3. While it is commonly called "The Prodigal Son" (prodigal meaning
a. It can rightfully be called the parable of "The Loving Father"
b. For it reveals more about the love of the father than of the
sinfulness of the younger son
4. The parable also reveals much about the heart of the unforgiving
elder son, whose purpose in this parable is to rebuke those
unwilling to reach out and receive the lost who repent
[Let's begin our study of this "pearl and crown of all the parables" by
reading it in its entirety, and then examining its major features
(please read Lk 15:11-32)...]
I. ANALYZING THE PARABLE OF "THE PRODIGAL SON"
A. HIS DEPARTURE FROM HOME - Lk 15:11
1. The younger son asks his father to give him his portion of the
inheritance due him
a. According to the Law of Moses, the eldest son received a
double portion - cf. Deu 21:17
b. Since there were two sons, the younger son would receive
2. Like so many impatient young people today, the younger son...
a. Desired to be free from parental restraints
b. Desired to have his father's inheritance "now"
3. The father grants him his request, and the younger son soon
takes all that he has to a distant country
B. HIS LIFE ABROAD - Lk 15:13b-19
1. With "prodigal" (wasteful, extravagant) living, he soon
depletes his possessions
2. His poverty is complicated by a famine striking the country
3. In desperation, he hires himself to another to feed his pigs
a. This would be most degrading to a Jew, for pigs were
considered unclean - cf. Lev 11:7
b. According to Hendriksen, there was a saying current among
the Jews at that time: "May a curse come upon the man who
cares for swine!"
c. With great hunger, he would have gladly eaten what was
given to the pigs
4. He finally comes to his senses...
a. Recalling how well fed were his father's hired servants
b. They had plenty, and here he was, perishing with hunger!
-- So to hunger and humiliation, there is now added
5. He resolves to return home...
a. To confess his sin against heaven (i.e., God's will) and
b. To confess his unworthiness to be called his father's son
c. To be made only like one of his father's hired servants
C. HIS RETURN HOME - Lk 15:20-32
1. Warmly welcomed by his father - Lk 15:20-24
a. Carrying out his resolution, the prodigal son returns home
b. While still a great way away, the father sees him (had he
been looking for his son?)
c. The father's great love is immediately evident...
1) He has compassion
2) He runs to greet his son
3) He throws his arms around his son's neck
4) He kisses him
d. The son quickly confesses his sin, and his unworthiness to
be called a son
e. But before he can even say "Make me one of your hired
servants", the father joyfully calls upon his servants
1) Bring out the best robe and put it on him
2) Put a ring on his hand, and sandals on his feet
3) Kill the fatted calf in order to celebrate his return
-- All of which serve to reinstate the son as a person of
importance and authority
f. What this means to the father is touchingly summarized in
1) "for this my son was dead and is alive again"
2) "he was lost and is found"
-- Certainly any parent can relate to the emotions
expressed by this father!
2. Jealously rejected by his brother - Lk 15:25-32
a. The elder son, returning from the field, wonders what the
celebration is about
b. When told by one of the servants, he angrily refuses to go
c. The father comes out, and pleads with him...
1) The elder son's complaints:
a) For many years he had served his father
b) He had never transgressed his father's will
c) The father had never provided such a celebration for
d) But when the son who squandered his father's
inheritance with harlots returns home, the fatted
calf is killed for him!
-- Isn't it easy to sympathize with the elder son?
2) The father's response:
a) Note first how tenderly the father treats THIS son
(addressing him as "child" in the Greek)
b) He recognizes the elder son's faithfulness ("you are
always with me")
c) He reassures the son that the remaining inheritance
is his ("all that I have is yours")
d) Yet the father maintains that it is right to
1/ "your brother..." (note the contrast)
a/ The elder son had called his brother, "this son
b/ The father emphasizes the brotherly relation,
2/ "...was dead and is alive again, and was lost and
is found." (repeating what was said to the
servants in Lk 15:24)
[So ends this "pearl and crown" of all the parables, leaving us with a
sharp contrast between the love of the father and the jealousy of the
elder brother. No further explanation is given, but none is really
needed if we just contemplate upon this parable in its context.
But to make sure we don't overlook the obvious, just a few thoughts in
II. APPLYING THE PARABLE OF "THE PRODIGAL SON"
A. THE MAIN ELEMENTS ARE EASILY DISCERNED...
1. The father symbolizes our heavenly Father
2. The prodigal son in coming home represents the penitent sinner
3. The elder brother reflected the attitude of the self-righteous
Pharisees and scribes - cf. Lk 15:2
B. THE KEY LESSONS SHOULD BE EVIDENT AS WELL...
1. Our heavenly Father loves His children
a. Even when they turn away from Him, His hearts yearns for
them in love
b. But especially when they return with a penitent attitude
1) There is "joy in heaven" - Lk 15:7
2) There is "joy in the presence of the angels of God" - Lk
3) It was right to "make merry and be glad" - Lk 15:32
2. The faithful children of God need to understand the proper way
to receive the erring child who returns to God
a. Not with any sibling jealousy, but with joyous celebration!
- Lk 15:32
b. With a strong reaffirmation of love:
1) As illustrated by the father in the parable
2) As Paul instructed the Corinthians in 2 Co 2:6-8
1. "The Prodigal Son", along with the two previous parables, was told
by Jesus to teach these important lessons to the Pharisees and scribes
2. Yet while directed toward them, imagine how these parables comforted
the hearts of those "tax collectors and sinners" who had drawn near
to Jesus to hear Him! - Lk 15:1
a. Though considered unacceptable by the religious elite, they
learned that they could be accepted by God!
b. That God was seeking for them, and would lovingly receive them if
they would repent!
-- Is this the same message we convey to those lost in sin, but who
are willing to draw near and listen to the gospel?
3. We must never forget that it was Jesus who said:
"Those who are well do not need a physician, but those who are
sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to
repentance." (Lk 5:31-32)
Dear friend, have you like the prodigal son "come to himself",
realizing how far one falls when they turn away from God?
May you be moved to repentance this by parable, "the gospel within the
gospel"; and may you never forget that your heavenly Father anxiously
awaits your reconciliation with Him!
Together with God, we offer you the gospel of Christ (cf. Mk 16:15-16)
as a message of reconciliation:
"Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were
pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be
reconciled to God." (2 Co 5:20)