Luke 15 is one of my favorite chapters in the bible. Jesus was attracting all kinds of people outside the religious realm and it was upsetting the theological apple cart of the religious leaders of the day in the Jewish community.
If He was a leader, a Rabbi, then interacting on a social level with “those people” was out of the question. So they complained to each other, saying, “he receives sinners and eats with them.” So in response to their complaint he did what was so often his way. He told a story. Three stories actually. All very good stories.
The first was about a lost sheep. He told the story of a sheapherd who had 100 sheep, but 1 had lost its way. He relayed to them that this sheapherd left the 99 sheep and went after the one. The implication here being that there are those who wander. How does a lost sheep get lost? Distraction, separation, isolation, usually when someone is lost they simply went wandering. It happens so easy. There are so many things to distract us, and we easily lose our way. We come to ourselves at some point, usually when caught in the thorn bushes, and say “how did I get here, I’m lost.”
The Next story is equally poignant. A woman had 10 coins but lost 1. Its believed that the 1 coin was worth about a days wage. The story goes that she lost it but it had so much value to her that she made a thorough search for it. She wanted it back in a serious way. She turned the house upside down to find that coin. The interesting thing about a lost coin, and is so true of our lives as well, is inherent value. A coin holds in itself a real value, just as we have incredible value to God, to the those around us, to our own families. No matter what happens in our lives our value still exists. Even more interesting is that no matter how much value a coin has if its lost its worthless. It can not be used for that which it was created. It can have incredible value but if its lost it has no worth.
The third and last story is one of the single most compelling accounts in scripture. It is the story of “The Prodigal Son” We all know this story, we have heard it from many different perspectives and in different ways, but we always come back tot he fact that there was a rebellious son, who left his fathers house to pursue selfish desires, and after a time hit rock bottom and returned in humility to his father and the father compassionately and enthusiastically received him home. What this story is about is the idea of waisted potential. The waist of living life for self. The waste of taking our blessing and squandering it among those who feign love but in truth are friends for fun sake, not friends of faithfulness. Its about waste. The waste of a life filled to the brim with potential, yet spilled out over bad choices and wrong thinking. Most importantly it is about the idea that failure is not final, that potential wasted can be redeveloped and deployed, that forgiveness is more powerful than betrayal.
The object of all of these stories seem to be the wandering, worthless and wasted. The Sheep, the coin, and the son. I truly believe that real object of these stories are the sheapherd, the woman, and the father. Reason being, Jesus nature, His love for those “outside the circle” was in question. He was being challenged that his desire to save the lost sheep of the house of Israel was missing the mark. So these stories while stating the fact of humanity, the way we wander, the way we lose worth as we lay lost in the dark shadows of the corners of the room, and how mankind has a tendency to run from the freedom of surrender. The focus of the story were the owners of the sheep, coin and son. Most importantly the way they responded.
The Sheapherd left the 99 sheep to go after the 1. Regardless of why the distraction or what caused the sheep to be lost it was lost all the same and needed to be found, because that one sheep was as important to the sheapherd as everyone else. He did not respect or love the other “non distracted” sheep anymore than the 1. He lovingly picked the sheep up, and carried it back to the fold. What a compassionate Sheapherd we have in Jesus.
The woman, becomes almost hysterical in her attempt to find the coin. Knowing that the value of the coin was in its being found, and knowing that its worth was being lost. She refused to give up and was willing to turn everything over to find it. When she found it she through a huge celebration, because the valuable coin had worth again. What a loving Creator we have in Jesus who made us valuable and wont let us lose our worth and will do anything to retain our worth.
Most importantly the father who was obviously waiting on his “prodigal-wasted” son to come home. When he sees him, embraces him, immediately forgives his rebellion, but will not hear of any solution that will not mean full reinstatement of full rights and identity in the family of God. He Kiss him, he clothes him, and he takes what was a waste and renewed it to its rightful potential and accepted the son back confessing in loud tones. My son was dead, he is alive, he was lost now he is found.
So I encourage you, if you want to know that love of your Heavenly Father today, go and look at Luke 15, instead of focusing on the wandering, worthless, and wasted, turn your eyes on the Sheapherd, the woman, and the Father. If you happened to be found then take on the spirit of your father and lovingly find someone else, if you happen to be lost run to your father He’s waiting.