“Look What I Found!”
Pastor Jo Anne
Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. 2And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, ‘This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.’
3 So he told them this parable: 4‘Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? 5When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. 6And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.” 7Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance.
8 ‘Or what woman having ten silver coins,* if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? 9When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, “Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.” 10Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.’
11 Then Jesus* said, ‘There was a man who had two sons. 12The younger of them said to his father, “Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.” So he divided his property between them. 13A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and travelled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. 14When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. 15So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. 16He would gladly have filled himself with* the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. 17But when he came to himself he said, “How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! 18I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.’ ” 20So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. 21Then the son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.”* 22But the father said to his slaves, “Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!” And they began to celebrate.
25 ‘Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. 27He replied, “Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.” 28Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. 29But he answered his father, “Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. 30But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!” 31Then the father* said to him, “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.”
1. A lot of attention has been given to the story of the Prodigal Son and the Welcoming Father, but the short stories of the lost sheep and the lost coin help focus our attention on an important lesson that unfolds more fully in the final parable. Scholars believe these three stories were connected in the early oral tradition of the church, and Luke drew on that tradition when he placed the three parables together in his gospel account. As we look at the three parables, it is important to also consider how Jesus used them to illustrate the Kingdom principles he was teaching. Think of these parables as sermon illustrations!
- What central theme ties all three of these parables together?
- What “Kingdom truth” is Jesus using these stories to illustrate?
- To whom do the sheep, coin, and son belong in each story?
- In order to be lost, must a thing first belong?
2. Luke’s gospel is filled with examples of the many ways Jesus challenged the status quo. From “he has filled the hungry with good things, but the rich he has sent away empty” (1:53), through “the first shall be last and the last shall be first” (13:30), to “the stone that the builders rejected has been made the chief cornerstone” (20:17), the theme of reversal threads its way throughout Luke’s gospel.
- How do these three parables each show Luke’s theme of reversal?
3. Context is everything. Jesus told these stories in response to the grumbling he heard from the scribes and Pharisees, as they complained about the company he was keeping. Remember that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, near the end of his ministry when we hear these stories. He accepts hospitality wherever he can find it, even with a Pharisee (ch. 14)! And now, those Pharisees who entertained Jesus a few verses ago are complaining because he also eats with sinners and tax collectors. While these righteous teachers and leaders are criticizing Jesus for hanging out with the wrong crowd, Jesus is trying to teach them how the Kingdom of God really works. He isn’t too worried about the people who already believe in God and worship God. Jesus is concerned about the ones who have been excluded, the ones who are lost.
- How do we demonstrate to the neighborhood around us that we belong to God?
- How do we celebrate being found by God?
- Who do we exclude from fellowship in our church?
- How can we participate in finding others, and welcoming them into the Body of Christ?
What does this passage teach?
What does it command?
What does it promise?