The three parables of the lost sheep, lost coin, and lost son can be thought of as independent stories. While we look at them in isolation, there is a consistent pattern: the main character possesses something valuable and does not want to lose it. The main character rejoices in the finding of the lost thing but does not rejoice alone. The main character (God) expresses care in either the looking or the handling of that which was lost. Each thing that was lost has personal value, not just a monetary value: shepherds care for their sheep, women cherish their bridal jewelry, and a father loves his son.
Something To Talk About:
- Something of significant value was lost: Have you ever lost something and spent a lot of time trying to find it? People lose things all the time. We lose money, our wallet, jewelry, pens, and our phones to name a few. How long you look for it is usually based on its value. The greater the value the greater the time, effort and resources you will invest in finding it. Each thing lost in the three parables has personal value, not just a monetary value: shepherds care for their sheep, the woman only had so much money, and a father loves his son. The way God values you is seen in all three of these stories. Every one of them was prized and precious. With this picture, God is saying to you, “You are prized. You are precious. You are valuable.”
- That which is lost demanded an all-out search: Once the owners notice that one of their precious things is missing, they do exactly the same thing: look for it. But they look for the lost thing as if it were the only thing they owned as if it is of top importance. The theme of the search is significant in all three of these stories. When the shepherd lost his sheep he left the ninety-nine others in the field to go in search of the one that was lost. When the widow lost her coin, she swept the house thoroughly until it turned up. When the father lost his son, though he did not go off in search of him, we get the impression that daily he stood on the porch looking down the road, hoping to see his son coming home. God not only loves the lost, He is also looking for them. He is searching for you. In fact, that is why Jesus Christ came to earth. He said that He had come to “seek and save those . . . who are lost.” (Luke 19:10)
- When that which was lost was found it resulted in rejoicing: God will welcome you home. The prodigal son came to his senses and said, “Here I am working in a pigsty and not making even enough to eat on. Back home even the servants do better than this.” And so he decided, “I’ll go back home.” He probably prepared a speech for his father but he didn’t need it. The father gladly welcomed his son home without scolding or reprimand. Notice that Jesus said God celebrates when a lost person comes home. In Luke 15:7 He said, “In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away! In verse 10 He said, “In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.” There should be excitement when a sinner gets saved. It is not a routine activity. Rather it is the greatest miracle that can occur. It is worth our shouting, yelling, and jumping up and down in joy, for there is no greater miracle to celebrate than the new birth.
- What is the main idea of these three parables?
- Read Luke 15:3-4. To whom does Jesus address this parable? Who are the sheep in this parable? Who is the shepherd? How are we like sheep? (Isaiah 53:6)
- Read Luke 15:8-10. A silver coin (a drachma) was worth about a day’s labor. How does the woman respond when she loses one of them? What does the woman do to find the coin? Have you ever lost something that was very valuable to you? What motivated you to find it?
- How is this a picture of what God has done in sending His Son? Why does the woman call other people to rejoice with her? Why is it that we want to share our joy with others?
- What did the prodigal son say or do that suggests he had repented (Luke 15:17-19)? One of the powerful things about God’s Word is that it forces you to confront your sin (Acts 2:37). How do you react to a passage when it points out your sin?
- What can we do to build relationships with people who are far from God (Philippians 2:3 and Ephesians 4:2)? Why is it important to build these relationships? Who are the “sinners” in our culture today we are unlikely to spend time with and evangelize? What can we do to remove barriers to make that possible?
- What do you think about the Father giving his son his inheritance when he knew that he would mostly misuse it? How does this relate to God’s relationship with us?
- With the father being our model of love, what barriers stand in our way to being like the father?
- Determine one concrete step you can take this week to develop more empathy and passion for the lost.
Take one thing home with you:
All three parables illustrate a fundamental truth that throughout our life, God has pursued us relentlessly. So great is God’s desire for a restored relationship with you that the One, true God, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords came down from heaven to die an unjustified and sacrificial death. We don’t deserve it, nor can we fathom His grace and love, but as these parables clearly indicate, God willingly comes down to meet and help us wherever we are.
I hope the reality of that truth has sunk in fully. Do you fully grasp the depth of God’s love that He is pursuing us? You were the helpless and lost sheep. You were the coin that was so valuable God worked and searched until He had it back in His possession. You are of such value to the only One who truly decides the worth of things that He pursued you. Don’t miss that truth today. Make it the foundation for every decision, thought, and action in your life.