Today’s reading contains three parables concerning those who are lost. In response to criticism that Jesus’ audience, and by extension, Jesus, was somehow tainted by the presence of tax collectors and sinners, Jesus offered three parables to show the value of every soul.
Luke 15:4-7 is the Parable of the Lost Sheep. This account pictures those who are lost in ignorance. Sheep are not highly intelligent. Adding to that problem, they have no natural defense. Thus, a sheep might graze and continue walking until it is separated from the flock. Left alone in the wilderness, a sheep is susceptible to injury or predation. As such, it must be sought out and rescued as soon as possible. Jesus’ parable illustrates the value of those who are lost without any natural defenses. Notably emphasized is the joy found in heaven over one sinner who repents.
Luke 15:8-10 is the Parable of the Lost Coin. This parable pictures those who are lost by neglect. In this case either carelessness or clutter. The coin was lost because it was not in its proper place. Moreover, it was lost among the clutter of the house. In order for the coin to be found, a thorough cleaning and diligent search had to be made. Once found, the joyous news is noised abroad and celebrated, again linked to the joy in heaven over one sinner who repents.
Finally, there is the Parable of the Lost Son in Luke 15:11-32. He is commonly called “the Prodigal Son.” The word prodigal has nothing to do with being lost or sinful. Rather, the word means “wasteful.” This son had wasted the blessings of his father. To be honest, there are two lost sons in this parable, though emphasis is given primarily to the one. This son was lost in his willful desire for a worldly lifestyle.
This parable is a story of tragedy and triumph. The tragedy is seen in the son’s failure to understand and appreciate the love and blessings provided by his father. The triumph is seen in the fact that the young man had the humility to recognize his error and repent of his wrongdoing. Note that recognition of wrong is not the same as repentance. Repentance requires both a recognition of error and a determined desire to make amends and live a righteous life.
Are you lost? If so, why? And if so, make a change today!