Thursday, March 18, 2021

2021.03.18 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 15

Read Luke 15

Questions from the Scripture text: Who drew near to do what (Luke 15:1, cf. Luke 14:35)? Who complained (Luke 15:2)? About Whom? For doing what? How did Jesus respond (Luke 15:3)? What happens in the first parable (Luke 15:4)? How would they respond if they find the lost sheep (Luke 15:5)? What would they do when they got home (Luke 15:6)? Where is similar rejoicing done (Luke 15:7)? Over what? What happens in the second parable (Luke 15:8)? What would she do when she finds the coin (Luke 15:9)? In whose presence is there similar joy (Luke 15:10)? Over what? What is the third parable about (Luke 15:11)? What did the younger son want (Luke 15:12)? What did he do with it (Luke 15:13)? What problem did he run into (Luke 15:14)? What did he do about it (Luke 15:15)? For what did he long (Luke 15:16)? What happened to him in Luke 15:17? What did he say? What did he decide to do (Luke 15:18)? What did he decide to say (Luke 15:18-19)? What did he do in Luke 15:20? What did his father see? What did his father feel? What did his father do? What did the son say to him (Luke 15:21)? But to whom did his father speak (Luke 15:22)? And what did he say to do (Luke 15:22-23)? Why (Luke 15:24)? Where was the older son (Luke 15:25)? What did he hear when he came home? Whom did he ask about it (Luke 15:26)? What did the servant say (Luke 15:27)? How did the older brother respond to this (Luke 15:28)? What did the father do with him? How did he answer his father (Luke 15:29)? What does he claim to have done? What did he want to be able to do? With whom? What did he call his brother (Luke 15:30)? What is he angry at his father for? But what has his father done for him (Luke 15:31)? And why does his father say he should have been happy (Luke 15:32)?

Jesus is just too gracious. That was the complaint about Him (Luke 15:2) that He was dealing with this entire chapter (Luke 15:30). After all, He was feasting with repentant tax-collectors and sinners (Luke 15:1). 

So the thrust of the chapter as a whole is that if there’s anything worth making merry and being glad about (Luke 15:32a), it’s when God gives spiritual life to the dead, and brings them to Himself in repentance and reconciliation (verse 32b).

Retrieving the lost is worth effort. This is a main feature of the first two parables. The man with the lost sheep and the woman with the lost coin both exert themselves significantly (Luke 15:4Luke 15:8)—and this out of self-interest (though perhaps there is compassion for the sheep, certainly not for the coin). In the third parable, we see the father running out of compassion. 

Jesus is showing us something here about Himself and how sinners come to repentance. It’s not like it’s primarily their idea or their effort. If we notice the relationship of Luke 14:35 to Luke 15:1, we’ll see that the reason that tax-collectors and sinners drew near to hear was because the Lord had given them ears to do so.

Retrieving those whose hearts have been made receptive to hear the gospel is worth the effort not only because of the value of an eternal soul (and how great is that value!) but because it’s an effort that the Lord Himself is spearheading. It is worth it, because He is worth it. It succeeds because He is doing it.

Retrieving the lost is worth rejoicing over. In bringing sinners to repentance, in bringing sinners to Himself, the Lord is aiming at His own gladness. He does the work because it pleases Him, and when the work is done it both pleases and praises Him. “Rejoice with me!” says the man in Luke 15:6. “Rejoice with me!” says the woman in Luke 15:9. “Let us eat and be merry” says that father in Luke 15:23.

If we are “to rejoice with those who rejoice” as touches our brothers and sisters—and even those among them who are persecuting us (cf. Romans 12:10–16), then how much more are we to rejoice in God’s rejoicing?! Yet, if we don’t value the Lord Himself, then what pleases Him will make little difference to us.

At the beginning of the third parable, it seems that just the younger son fails to value his father and being with him (Luke 15:12-13). But later we find out that the older son considered it a burden to slave for his father (Luke 15:29a, more literally translated), or to obey his father (verse 29b). And that he cared more to make friends with other friends than with his father (verse 29c). He didn’t value either being with his father (Luke 15:31a) or jointly possessing, as an heir, all that his father had (verse 31b). This is why he lacked the capacity to be merry and glad with his father in his father’s merriness and gladness (Luke 15:32).

The marvelous thing about Jesus is that this is exactly the kind of lost sheep that He is going after in Luke 15! He turns away from the “99” tax-collectors and sinners who are making merry and glad with Him, and He comes away as it were—like the father leaving the party to plead with the older son. This Man even seeks and receives Pharisees and scribes to eat with them (cf. Luke 15:2)!

Accurately seeing and valuing God is the path to joy-enabling repentance. At its bottom, sin is an attempt to enjoy the created thing without the Creator. A desire to have the inheritance without Him in Whom alone it is truly ours. When we live for ourselves, we may have the illusion of responsibility like the older son, or may be allowed to suffer more immediately visible consequence and lost like younger son (cf. Luke 15:13-16). 

But in either case what is needed is to have our minds enlightened and hearts awakened to: 

the goodness of our God (even his hired servants are well-cared for, Luke 15:17!), 

our guiltiness against Him (we have sinned against heaven, before Him, Luke 15:18!) 

and our unworthiness to be His (we are not worthy to be called His children, Luke 15:19!) 

This ability to see God and come to Him was given to the younger son in the parable and to the tax-collectors and sinners in Luke 15:1. But if we find ourselves unable to rejoice over others’ coming to Christ, the problem may well be that we lack the very life and repentance that they have been given. May God make us value above all things to be with Him and belong to Him!

How glad are you to be with/belong to God? What does your response to sinners’ conversion tell you about this?

Suggested Songs: ARP45B “Daughter, Incline Your Ear” or TPH187 “I Belong to Jesus”

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