Luke and The Lost
Who doesn’t have a beloved family member who has left God, deciding to be on their own, going for what the world has to offer? I do. I ache for these we love so much. We pray daily for them to turn back towards “home”, to make those steps back to our Savior so He can once more be Lord of their lives.
That’s why this last “lost but found” parable of Jesus is so precious with great significance for us. I have read this parable many times. I see something today that strikes a nerve in my being. When I was younger, I had the attitude a couple of times of the stay at home brother. I must confess that sometimes I grumbled like that brother who stayed home and kept plugging away at the farm (church), doing all the right things but maybe not with the right attitude.
Do we feel under appreciated when someone returns to church who has been gone a long time, doing their own thing, then everyone rejoices to see them and treats them like royalty when you have been doing your work and their work in their absence? Mm. Then maybe we are doing it for all the wrong reasons.
When the lost brother finally comes to the end of himself, he is repentant. He changes direction and makes small steps toward home. He knows he has sinned against God and tells Him first which is the right call. We sin against God when we sin or hurt others. Then he confesses to sinning against his earthly father. “I don’t deserve to be called your son” shows a broken spirit, aching heart and a willingness to come home not expecting anything but the scrapes from the livestock.
Jesus shows us a picture of God’s reaction to sinners (us) who repent and turn back to Him with even one small step in His direction. “When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him.” The father RAN to MEET him! All it takes for us is one step in His direction! God will run to meet repentant hearts.
The lost son began his confession. The father didn’t listen to the list of sins, he only saw and heard the repentant heart. Joy was the theme of this day! My son is home! A party was ordered. Let the celebration of my lost but now found son begin!
But the son who stayed home and obeyed all the rules (Pharisees and religious elite, church people) was not impressed with his lost but found party. Why throw a party? he complains. He should be punished, banned from the farm and our lives for what he has done seems to be his attitude and outlook. He agrees with his lost brother about only one thing…undeserving of being called son, much less being thrown a party!
Are we like that? Do we feel that sinners with messy lives who come home, back to God and back to His house deserve special recognition and a party? It depends on our attitude about our love for God and service to God. How do we see God, the Father? Who are we?
Is it about religion or relationship? Punishment and judgement or forgiveness and acceptance? Jesus chooses forgiveness. We need to choose forgiveness.
The father had wise words of counsel for the stay at home brother: “Son, you don’t understand. You’re with me all the time, and everything that is mine is yours–but this is a wonderful time, and we had to celebrate. This brother of yours was dead, and he’s alive! He was lost, and he’s found!”
Church, let’s do more celebrating with less judgement and suspicion. God looks at the heart. Jesus forgives and the Holy Spirit restores. We can encourage and love on the sinner come home. Pray that we see others they way God sees them…and forgive. This brother or sister of yours…pray for them. Don’t ever give up.
Luke 15, The Message
The Story of the Lost Son
11-12 Then he said, “There was once a man who had two sons. The younger said to his father, ‘Father, I want right now what’s coming to me.’
12-16 “So the father divided the property between them. It wasn’t long before the younger son packed his bags and left for a distant country. There, undisciplined and dissipated, he wasted everything he had. After he had g
one through all his money, there was a bad famine all through that country and he began to hurt. He signed on with a citizen there who assigned him to his fields to slop the pigs. He was so hungry he would have eaten the corncobs in the pig slop, but no one would give him any.
17-20 “That brought him to his senses. He said, ‘All those farmhands working for my father sit d
own to three meals a day, and here I am starving to death. I’m going back to my father. I’ll say to him, Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son. Take me on as a hired hand.’ He got right up and went home to his father.
20-21 “When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. The son started his speech: ‘Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son ever again.’
22-24 “But the father wasn’t listening. He was calling to the servants, ‘Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then get a grain-fed heifer and roast it. We’re going to feast! We’re going to have a wonderful time! My son is here—given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found!’ And they began to have a wonderful time.
25-27 “All this time his older son was out in the field. When the day’s work was done he came in. As he approached the house, he heard the music and dancing. Calling over one of the houseboys, he asked what was going on. He told him, ‘Your brother came home. Your father has ordered a feast—barbecued beef!—because he has him home safe and sound.’
28-30 “The older brother stalked off in an angry sulk and refused to join in. His father came out and tried to talk to him, but he wouldn’t listen. The son said, ‘Look how many years I’ve stayed here serving you, never giving you one moment of grief, but have you ever thrown a party for me and my friends? Then this son of yours who has thrown away your money on whores shows up and you go all out with a feast!’
31-32 “His father said, ‘Son, you don’t understand. You’re with me all the time, and everything that is mine is yours—but this is a wonderful time, and we had to celebrate. This brother of yours was dead, and he’s alive! He was lost, and he’s found!’”
One last thought,
If the father saw him from a far, that probably means he was looking for the return of his son each day. God wants your loved ones to come back to him as much or more than you do. He is looking for this brother or sister of yours to come home.
Dear Heavenly Father,
May we never have the attitude of the stay at home brother. Help us to see each other and others through Your eyes of hope, forgiveness, compassion and unconditional love. Continue to develop the fruits of the Holy Spirit in us. Use us to encourage, not do more harm. We pray for the souls of those who are lost and not yet found.
In Jesus Name, Amen