By Toni Ford
In the 15th chapter of Luke, Jesus shares three of His greatest parables ever told. Before He begins, He is approached by the Pharisees and other religious leaders, who are upset with the crowd Jesus is hanging out with. Not only did Jesus welcome the outcasts and teach them, He went a step further by eating with them. Jewish tradition recognized a meal as a time for intimacy, fellowship and significant conversation. As a result of the opposition Jesus was receiving from the religious leaders, He shared these parables for two reasons. One reason was to answer the accusations of the Pharisees and scribes who were appalled at Jesus’ behavior. The other reason was to show God’s love for the lost and for His children when they wander away from Him. The Jewish leaders did not even recognize that they themselves were among the lost.
The three parables – the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin and the Prodigal Son – teaches us some valuable lessons about ourselves, and most of all, about the loving heart of our heavenly Father.
You are valuable to God. In each parable, we find that something is lost, and in each case, the object that was lost remained valuable in the mind of the owner in spite of its lost condition. In the parable of the Prodigal Son, the father longed for the return of his son and the other owners diligently searched for the lost objects. Just as the object had value to its owner and even though it was lost, the owner was determined to recover it. This is the same way God sees each of us. We are lost, but God loves us so much that He is determined to find and reclaim us for His sake and ours.
He seeks after us. Each of these three parables are an amazing picture of our heavenly Father. He is seen grieving, seeking, finding and rejoicing as what has been lost is now found. Isaiah 55:7 reminds us that no matter how great our sins, our God longs for us to return to Him. He does not want us to live in shame and condemnation, but rather, He just wants us to return to Him.
From death to life. In the first two shorter stories with the activity of the seeking, God is emphasized. In the third parable, the nature of repentance and conversion is described. But neither occurs without the other. We see God’s part; the shepherd seeks the lost sheep and the woman searches for the lost coin. But there is also man’s part in salvation, for the wayward son willingly repented and returned home. Salvation includes both the sovereignty of God, seeking after each of us, and the responsibility of man, of repenting and turning toward God.
These parables are a beautiful picture of our Father’s heart towards every person on this earth. First and foremost, He sees us as valuable, and the good news is that He never will stop seeking after us! Also, it is our Heavenly Father that initiates and makes the first move by pursuing us out of love and not out of guilt, shame or condemnation. When we repent and turn to Him, that is when we go from death to life!
Lord Jesus, thank you for loving us, pursuing us, and never giving up on us, no matter how great our sins might be. Thank you for seeing the good in each of us. May we always seek after You first and foremost in our lives!
If you would like me to join you in prayer please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to pray for you!