56 Luke 15.1-32
v Here Luke puts three parables side by side
Ø They all tell basically the same message
§ Something lost, something found
· Sheep, Coin, Son
Ø But why did Luke put the three parables in succession?
Ø Why all here at one time?
Ø Why not spread them around in the Gospel?
§ I believe he was inspired to do this for a couple of reasons:
· Repetition in Scripture indicates importance
· Even though they are similar, they have slightly nuanced differences that come to the surface when they are side by side
§ Paint store color hues
v First of all, it reveals Who Saves
Ø So many times we focus so much on Jesus’ role in salvation we forget that it is the Godhead that saves
§ Father, Son and Holy Spirit
Ø CH Spurgeon said of these parables…
§ If you put the three pictures in a line, they represent the whole compass of salvation. .. yet each one is distinct from the other, and by itself instructive
v In the first parable we see the unmistakable picture of the son
Ø Shepherd is an image of God that goes back hundreds of years before Christ
§ Isa 40:11
· He (God) tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.
§ Ezek 34:12
· As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I (God) look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness
Ø And of course…
§ Ps 23
· The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…
Ø When Jesus came, you can imagine the stir he caused when he said
§ John 10:14
· I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me
¨ The Jews knew exactly what he was saying…I am God
Ø And that is why they sought to kill him
Ø So in this parable we see the unmistakable picture of Jesus’ role in salvation
§ Seeking the lost
Ø The early Christian church saw this as the greatest image of who Jesus Christ was
§ Show Overhead
· This statue is the earliest existing statue from the western church
¨ C. 250 AD
Ø Believed to come from the roman catacombs where the persecuted church would hide
§ This image is far and away the most beloved of the early church
§ Pictures Jesus going after the one lost sheep and bringing him back
· And that is the picture that is in our first parable
Ø Going out after the lost sheep (each one of us)
Ø Leaving the many for the sake of the one
Ø The overarching concern he has for every one of his sheep
Ø The value of each one of us
§ We can understand why this image was so comforting for the early persecuted church, can’t we?
v The second parable shows us that Jesus does not act alone in salvation
Ø The third person of the Godhead acts as well
The Holy Spirit
v When we think of the HS, we think of verses like…
Ø Gal 5:22 ~ The fruit of the Spirit
Ø Or Mark 3:29 ~ Blaspheming against the HS
Ø Or perhaps the HS role in sanctification
§ But how many of us think of the HS in regards to salvation?
v In this parable the HS is shown as having an active role in salvation
Ø In the parable of the lost coin, the woman loses a coin that fell from her wedding headband
§ Describe here
· It is something of value and she could not possibly find it unless she first lights a lamp
¨ That light enables her to find the coin
Ø She could not possibly even begin to look for the coin without the light
§ Lighting the lamp is the first step in finding the coin
Ø So it is with salvation
§ The first step is light
· The light of the HS must illuminate one’s heart in order for salvation to occur
¨ 1 Cor 2:14
Ø The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned
§ What this verse is saying is…
· Without the Holy Spirit enlightening people’s hearts and minds to the Gospel
¨ They cannot begin to understand the Gospel
Ø It Makes sense, doesn’t it?
§ The Gospel of Jesus Christ is really foolishness if you think about it humanistically
· Jesus dying for your sins
· Trust that action and you are saved…your sins forgiven
¨ Really is quite a silly message
Ø That is why we must pray, pray, pray that the HS precedes us
§ That is what the “Evangelism Box” in back is all about
· Praying for specific people that the Spirit will precede us and enlightens their heart so that they can understand
§ Spurgeon speaking on the Spirit’s role in salvation said…
· It has been said that the prodigal returned of his own free will, for there is no hint of the operation of a superior power upon his heart, it seems as if he himself spontaneously says, "I will arise, and go unto my Father:' The answer is, that the Holy Spirit's work had been clearly described in the second parable, and needed not to be introduced again
Ø You see…
§ The Spirit is the one who enlightens the heart and enables the person to respond to the Gospel
· Paul said himself
¨ I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God (the H.S.) that makes it grow
Ø The HS must turn on the light!
v The third picture that is painted is that of the Father
v And the picture is somewhat different than the picture that we normally associate with God the Father
Ø The Father is not stern and distant
§ But loving and joyful
· Look at how the Father acts
¨ READ V. 20
Ø Teaches us that…
§ 1) The Father searches expectantly
· Saw the prodigal a long way off
¨ 2 Chron 16:9 ~ Eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those who are committed to him.
§ 2) The Father is compassionate
· He wants to welcome us home
¨ That is the essence of John 3:16, isn’t it?
§ 3) The Father is overjoyed at the prodigal’s return
· READ V. 22-24
¨ Mirrors what the two other parables said
Ø V. 10
Ø V. 7
¨ The Father accepts the lost back
v So the different hues we see are that the Godhead saves
Ø The Son seeks
Ø The Spirit enlightens
Ø And the Father accepts back
v These parables also give us a window into our condition
Ø Under the heading…
What is Saved
v The answer is
§ We are represented by the sheep, the coin and the Prodigal son
v And what these parables side by side show us is that we desperately need saving because of our proclivities, condition and nature
v The parable of the lost sheep displays…
Ø Our Proclivity to Wander
§ As sheep, we are prone to wander
v The painting of The Last Supper is said to have taken Da Vinci seven years to complete. Starting out, Da Vinci wanted to find the perfect Christ caricature for his portrait. Da Vinci always used real people in all his portraits and paintings, so he always searched for just the right "actors" to portray the realism he wanted to capture for his canvas.
v According to the story, "hundreds and hundreds of young men were carefully viewed in an endeavor to find a face and personality exhibiting innocence and beauty, free from the scars and signs of dissipation caused by sin." Eventually, after searching for weeks, a young man of 19 years was found and selected. For the next six months, Da Vinci worked on the portraiture of Christ as he, the artist, saw him, the Messiah, in the face and demeanor of this young subject.
v His central figure now completed, Da Vinci settled himself into the task of searching for and capturing the faces of the other disciples around that table in the upper room. One by one, over the next six years, Da Vinci searched and worked.
v Finally, the work had progressed to the point that there remained but one face left to find - that of The Traitor himself, Judas Iscariot. It was a face that the old master had purposefully left for last. Now, near the end of his task, he went on a search not unlike the one he had at first - looking, scrutinizing, studying faces in endless crowds for just that one face - the face - that would tell the story behind the story.
v His travels finally took him to a dungeon in Rome, where he had heard resided a man who was thought to be the epitome of what the artist was looking for. Upon introduction, Da Vinci realized his expectations were not disappointed. Indeed, here was a man of dark soul - a wretched, unkempt and vicious human. Yes, this was the perfect Judas!
v By special order of the king, the prisoner was released into Da Vinci's care for the next several months, day and night. The moment finally came when the portrait was completed and the prisoner was to be returned to the care of his incarcerators.
v Turning to leave, Da Vinci suddenly found himself in the clutches of the prisoner crying out, " Da Vinci, look at me! Do you not know who I am?"
v Upon studying the poor man closer, Da Vinci exclaimed that he did not know the man. " Da Vinci," the man cried louder, "I am your Christ!! I am the man you painted seven years ago as Christ! O, God, have I fallen so low?"
Ø Like sheep, we are prone to wander
§ That is our nature
· We backslide, turn away, lose interest, something else catches our eye
¨ Heb 12:2 ~ fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith
¨ Phil 3:13-14 ~ But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus
§ It is because we are like this that we are in desperate need of a caring shepherd
v The parable of the lost coin displays…
Ø Our Lifeless Condition
§ Many people think that we seek God
· Seeker sensitive movement in the church
¨ People make the first move toward the Lord
· Revivalist movement of 19th century
¨ We make a decision for the Lord
· Indeed, many scriptures point to the fact that there is a point in time where we respond to the Gospel
§ But we have to jive that with how the Bible describes us before our conversion
v The first parable displays that we are prone to wander, not seek
Ø The second parable shows our inability
§ How can we make a decision for Christ if we are a lifeless, utterly helpless coin?
· If life is a burning building and we are trapped inside…
¨ Many Christians believe that it is by our own strength that we get out
Ø We get up, seek the exit and escape
· But as this parable points out…
¨ One of the conditions that we have as sinners is that we are lifeless, helpless, dead
Ø Eph 2:1
§ As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins
Ø Col 2:13
§ When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ
Ø Ezek 37 ~ Valley of dry bones
§ We cannot help ourselves…We are DEAD, HELPLESS, LIFELESS
· So we must understand what these three parables teach us
¨ That it is the HS who awakens us to the danger of the burning building
¨ It is Jesus who seeks us out, climbs up the ladder to the second story, puts us on his shoulders and carries us out
¨ And lastly, it is the Father who embraces us and rejoices that we were saved!
v The parable of the lost son displays…
Ø Our Rebellious Nature
§ The Prodigal does not stay with his father and tend his crop and herd
· He demanded his inheritance
¨ V. 12 ~ “Father, give me my share of the estate.”
Ø And left
§ Isn’t that the story of Adam and Eve all over again
· God said “Stay and tend the garden with me and all this will be yours”
¨ Adam and Eve essentially said,
Ø We want the knowledge of Good and Evil now
Ø We want to be our own gods now
Ø We want our share now
Ø We want it our way!
Ø And that pattern of rebellion is alive and well in each one of us today…
§ That is our nature
· God says do this
¨ We say not now
· God says go over there
¨ We say I’m going to stay here
· God says get involved with this ministry
¨ We say I don’t have the time, desire
· God says give this amount
¨ We say it is too much, too costly
· God says sacrifice this
¨ We say it is too dear
· God says go tell this person about me
¨ We say it is too difficult
· God says trust in me
¨ We say no
· Whatever God says…
¨ We respond in rebellion
Ø However great or small
§ That is our nature, our knee jerk reaction
· What we should do, we do not and what we should not do, we do
¨ Sound familiar?
Ø And that is what the third parable teaches us about ourselves
§ Not only that we are prone to wander and are helpless to save ourselves…
· But that we are intrinsically rebellious toward God
v Lastly, these 3 parables teach us…
v Why we are Saved
Ø The “why” of our salvation is buried deep within each one of these parable
§ Q: What is salvation all about?
§ Q: What is the Gospel’s main intent?
§ Q: What does believing in Jesus Christ actually do?
· Restores Relationship
¨ This is shown in the immense joy described in each parable
Ø The shepherd’s joy at finding his lost sheep
Ø The woman’s delight upon finding her coin symbolizing her marriage relationship
¨ And most obviously…
Ø The father’s glee upon receiving back his lost son
v Relationships restored
Ø That is what it’s all about!
v You see…
Ø God created us out of love to love
§ Not out of any insufficiency in himself
· Just so that he could love us and be in relationship with us!
§ But that relationship was broken
· But he wants it back
· He wants to be in relationship with each one of us
¨ That is what Jesus Christ is all about
§ Restored Relationship
Ø And so he seeks the wandering
Ø He searches for the helpless
Ø He scans for the rebellious
§ Hoping to put…
· The robe in inheritance around our shoulders
· The ring of authority on our finger
· And sandals of sonship on our feet
¨ The third parable would likely be misunderstood without the first and the second. We have sometimes heard it said, here is the prodigal received as soon as he comes back, no mention being made of a Saviour who seeks and saves him. Is it possible to teach all truths in one single parable? Does not the first one speak of the shepherd seeking the lost sheep? Why need repeat what had been said before?.