SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- Once again, the Pharisees were criticizing Jesus for hanging out with "sinners." So he tells them a series of three parables that all have the same meaning. The stories reveal that God is searching for people who are lost. When they are found, he rejoices with them and a party breaks out in Heaven.
- The parable of The Lost Son would be particularly impactful for Jewish readers (to whom this letter was written), for a few reasons:
- When the son asks his father for his share of the inheritance, he was basically saying, "Dad, I wish you were dead." The father had every right to reject his son, but the father in the story, and our Heavenly Father, is patient with us.
- After the son squanders the inheritance, he becomes poor and finds a job feeding pigs. In the Jewish law, pigs are considered unclean (Leviticus 11:1-8). His job feeding these animals would have been frowned on in their culture. He had hit "rock bottom."
- The son decides to return home and beg his father to hire him as a servant. Upon returning home he can’t even get the words out before his father runs to meet him and hug him. In their culture men did not run; it was considered undignified. According to the law, the son deserved death by stoning (Deuteronomy 21:18-21) but the father instead gives him a hug.
- The father puts a robe on his son’s back, a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. The ring was a sign of sonship, the robe represents acceptance back into the family, and the sandals show that he wouldn’t be a slave.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- Jesus came for the lost, not the righteous.
- You are a treasure to God, and he will do anything to help you come back home.
- Every person you meet is also important to God and treasured by him. We need to do whatever we can to help God's other lost children find their way home to their Heavenly Father.
- God gives us free will to make our own decisions, but his desire is for us to be with him so he can treat us with grace.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- Do you believe that you are a treasure to God, and have you personally accepted and experienced his love and grace? If not, what do you think is holding you back from that? What could you do about that?
- Are you living as (what we call at Verve) a "grace wholesaler"? Are you showing people God's grace, helping them to see that they are treasured by God and can come home to him? If you've said yes to relationship with God, your life's mission is to help others find relationship with God. Who could you help this week?