This Is The Word Of The Lord
Sunday September 8th, 2013
Portrait painted by Andrea Mantegna
Luke the Evangelist is one of the Four Evangelists or authors of the Gospels (“good news” or “good tidings”) of Jesus Christ.
Luke came from Syria, an interesting fact given the times we live in, and he was from the city of Antioch. It is believed that he authored the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts of the Apostles!
Paul refers to Luke in the book of Colossians and describes him as being a doctor. He also indicates that Luke became his follower and disciple, and while little is known as to Luke’s death, it is believed he died as a martyr around 84 AD.
He is venerated as a Saint in the Roman Catholic Church. Referred to as “Saint Luke the Evangelist”, he is considered the patron Saint of artists, physicians, surgeons, students and butchers (I laughed at this last one until I realized that in Luke’s time, great care and reverence was taken in the slaughter of livestock and given the skill needed with a knife, the connection makes perfect sense)!
The Parable of the Lost Sheep
Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
The Parable of the Lost Coin
“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins[a] and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
The Parable of the Lost Son
Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
“Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’
“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”
What Does Luke Mean?
Today’s Gospel verse from Luke is one of 3 “LOST” parables related by Christ. The three parables include the parable about the LOST SHEEP, the parable of the LOST COIN, and finally, the parable of the LOST (Prodigal) SON. Christ grouped the three together to make a point. Now He used the parable to provide a way to teach an absolute truth that is an essential part of our relationship with both God, AND our fellow man. And it is a lesson that transcends time, and the changes time causes in the lives of all people!
In the parable of the lost sheep, we are reminded that when a sheep wanders away from the rest of the flock and the shepherd, he has lost the protection afforded him by the group under the ever watchful eye of the shepherd. He is all alone in the dark, uncertain where he is, unable to find his way back and entirely defenseless against any predators that may be lurking there. But the shepherd, ever devoted to his flock, leaves the flock whose numbers will likely keep them in relative safety until he returns. And the shepherd seeks out, finds and returns the one who was lost to the flock.
Adding the parable of the lost coin secondly, Jesus emphasized the importance that we not take anything in life for granted….not the big things like relationships or behaviors and certainly not something small such as losing a coin!
The parable of the Prodigal Son teaches us that despite all the hurt we cause others and God by our sin, if we are truly repentant for our transgressions, just as the Prodigal Son was welcomed back into the bosom of his family, so will God forgive us for the sins we commit is we ask Him for it, and we will once again become one with Him.
Just as the shepherd saw value in each sheep in the flock, the woman saw the value of the single lost coin and the father saw the value of welcoming his son back into the family, so does Christ and His Father above, see value in every person who is lost because their sin has led them away from faith. Jesus intends to seek out those sinners, and return them to faith, because he loves them. And that love was so great that he willingly gave up his life for the one…..and the many…..so that the stain of their sin would be washed clean! John 6:39 NIV sums it up perfectly! “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.”
1 Timothy 1:12-17 NIV
I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever.
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