Review of last two weeks: Jesus is teaching here to two distinct groups of people. The first group is the tax collectors and sinners, and the second group is the Pharisees and the teachers of the law. These two groups are total opposites; one does everything right and the other does everything wrong. The Pharisee don’t like that the self-proclaimed rabbi (Jesus) hangs out with the sinners. Jesus tells the three parables to the righteous in the crowd.
Parable of the Lost Sheep
This parable is about the loss of one sheep from a flock of 100. 100 would be an average size flock for that time. The shepherd leaves the 99 in a safe place and finds the lost one. He not only finds it but carries it back, which means it was too tired [or injured] to make it back on its own. Then Jesus says heaven throws a party for the return of the lost.
A widow loses one of 10 coins, each coin estimated to be about a day’s wages. Together, these coins could have possibly represented her dowry or her entire worth. When she finds her lost coin, she goes to her friends to have them celebrate with her.
Did you know that heaven held celebration for you when you accepted Jesus Christ when you accepted salvation? Awesome thought!
Parable of the Lost Son
You might assume this story will parallel the first two, something lost then something found, but Jesus throws a twist in this one. The second parable is really about the response of the older brother to the father’s acceptance of the lost son.
In the first two parables, what’s lost is actively sought out. But in the story about the son, when he’s thought lost, no one sought him out. Why? Who should have gone after the younger son? Culturally, the older brother should have gone after the younger brother and taken on the expense of dealing with helping out of the troubles he was in. Instead of an older brother that isn’t filled with compassion, the younger brother has an older brother who stands back with a callous heart and lets him stay lost to suffer the consequences of his own bad choices.
Fortunately, we didn’t get that older brother. We think that there’s no cost for the younger brother’s forgiveness, but that’s false. Reality says that there is always a cost.
In this parable, the cost is born by the older brother, by decreasing his inheritance. The cost of our forgiveness was Jesus’ very life. It was the sacrifice of shame and pain that He went through that paid the cost to allow us back into our Father’s house.
You will never know how to forgive until you know what it cost to bring you home. You will never know to give until you know what it cost Jesus to give you an inheritance.
Are you going to be the older brother who chose to hold onto the unforgiveness and resentment, or are you going to be the younger brother who accepts the payment for grace?