Of Lu Essay, Research Paper
December 10, 1998 Underlying Wisdom Found in the Three Parables of Luke Chapter 15 In the New Testament of the Bible, Jesus was well renowned. One characteristic that led up to His high profile was His great teaching ability. When He taught his disciples He always spoke in parables. A parable is defined as a short narrative making a moral or religious point by comparison with natural or homely things. The parables of Jesus can be taken at face value, as just a simple story. They can also be studied to try to extrapolate the deep meaning that each one contains. In Luke chapter 15, Jesus uses three parables the concept of sin and repentance. The Parables of the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin and the Lost Son, like all parables, possess underlying wisdom that is beneficial to all followers of Christ. The three parts or parables in Luke Chapter 15 are all interlinked sections of a whole that explains the love and mercy and forgiveness of God. These parables seem directly aimed at two classes of people, both the sinners and those who profited by them. A third class was also there as Pharisees and thus there were sinners and the self-righteous. The first parable is that of the lost sheep. The first six verses tie in the audience, namely the publicans and sinners, to the lost sheep and the search for them that is made by the shepherd. The self-righteous Pharisees murmured against this because they did not see that it was necessary to receive or even eat with sinners. Christ addresses these self-righteous people in verse 7 as the you to whom He is speaking. The text in verse 7 lifts the sense out of the physical into the spiritual realm and ties it into the loyal Host and the redemption of the lost sinners. The central issue is identified here as repentance. Luke 15: 1-7 1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear him. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, This man welcomes sinners and eats with them. 3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep. 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine persons who do not need to repent. The problem here is that all men have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, yet they did not see that. This was a central problem with the sect of the Pharisees and the system they espoused. It can be determined that redemption of the entire system is at stake and repentance is extended to all sinners from the heavenly Host. The man in verse 4 is Christ, who is looking for His lost sheep. To do that, he had to leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go in search of the one. The he does until he finds it. This search is the same search as the women undertake in the Parable of the Lost Coin. Luke 15: 8-10 8 Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin. 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents. The use of ten pieces of silver is not accidental. The price for Christ was that of a slave at thirty pieces of silver. This was a piece for each of the entities present in the inner council of elohim, as seen in Revelation 4 and 5. The council consisted of twenty-four elders plus the lamb at their head and the four living creatures plus the Most High God. Christ stated that a third of the Host had fallen with Satan in the rebellion. This concept is probably represented here in the ten as a third of the thirty. The purpose here is that the Holy Spirit has to make the house clean in order to restore the lost pieces. The last section in Luke Chapter 15, is the Parable of the Lost Son. Luke 15: 11-32 11 Jesus continued: There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger on said to his father, Father, give me my share of the estate. So he divided his property between them. 13 Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. 17 When he came to his senses, he said, How many of my father s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men. 20 So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. 21 The son said to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. 22 But the father said to his servants, Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring of his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found. So they began to celebrate. 25 Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 Your brother has come, he replied, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound. 28 The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, Look! All there years I ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son or yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him! 31 My son, the father said, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.
The two sons represent the professedly religious (the elder), and the openly irreligious (the younger). The younger son could be all of mankind, each person on earth. The second son, the youngest, could not wait for the bounty that was to be bestowed upon him. Under the law, the eldest son was to retain a double portion of the inheritance. The inheritance was shared even if the eldest was hated. The contrast with the prodigal son was that after he had been gone many days he began to be in want. He was joined to a citizen of the foreign land. He cleaved to or joined himself to the citizen as a form of slavery. However, his master did not deem his services worthy of enough food to sustain life. The prodigal son was no longer a citizen of the Father and was cleaved to another citizenship. The mighty famine in that land was due to the fact that it was no run according to the laws of the Father. The son was then given to feed swine. This symbolizes that he was unclean ritually and spiritually. The sons complete desolation and hunger become a realization that he is cut off from his Father s house and family. In verse 18 he becomes aware that he as sinned against heaven and before God. This confession and repentance is enough to restore him to the love of the Father. He did not properly understand the nature of the Father and sought merely to be as one of the hired servants. All who live in the house of God, possessing the Holy Spirit, are sons of God. Here the prodigal son was to be restored to his former condition. He was given the first robe and a ring was put on his finger. The robe symbolizes Christ s righteousness, or a robe of salvation that was washed white in the blood of the Lamb. Ones human rags of self-righteousness and sin are replaced with the garment of Christ s righteousness. The ring that the son is given represents the authority that Christ gives to us. With that authority, one is fully equipped to do the work of the father. The son will now be led by the Holy Spirit to extend the kingdom of God and to do the works that Christ did while on earth. The sandals that were placed on his feet symbolize sonship. The prodigal son is no longer a slave to Satan. Next, they kill the fattened calf and make merry. Here is where the parable shifts from an account of the openly irreligious to a portrayal of the professedly religious, or a turn from the publican to the Pharisee. Both parties are painted as alike children of God, both are faulty and sinful in His sight and both are loved despite it. Although the story of the older son has a present and local application to the Pharisees, it is to be taken as describing all self-righteous. The elder son drew close to the house when he heard evidences of joy. The same joy described in Luke 15: 10. He refused to go inside. The father came out and the son states he was a good slave for many years and he never even received a good goat. This suggests that he may have been as self-indulgent as his brother, if had he not been restrained by prudence. The father responds my son, you are always with me , something the eldest son considered slavery, and everything I have is yours . The prodigal son may have a robe, a ring and sandals, but the rest of the kingdom belongs to the elder son. We are not told how the elder brother acted, but we may read his history in that of the Jews who refused to rejoice with Jesus in the salvation of sinners. At the Passover they carried their resentment against him to the point of murder, and some forty years later the inheritance was take from them. Thus we see that the father did not pacify the elder brother. He continued to rebel against the father s will until he himself became the lost son. The first parable illustrates Christ s compassion. A sentient, suffering creature is lost, and it was bad for it that it should be so. Hence, it must be sought, though its value is only one out of a hundred. Man s lost condition makes him wretched. The second parable shows us how God values a soul. A lifeless piece of metal is lost, and while it could not be pitied, it could be valued. Its value was one out of ten, so it was bad for the owner that it should be lost. God looks upon man s loss as his impoverishment. The first two parables depict the efforts of Christ in the salvation of man. The third parable sets forth the responses and the efforts given by man to gain the profit of God s salvation. The most important point is as the parabolic figures become more literal, from sheep and coins to sons, the values also rise. It is no longer one from a hundred, or one from ten, it is now one out of two.