Start with Posture of Silence and Solitude (2 minutes)
Read Scripture: Luke 15
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.
“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins 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.”
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.’”
This time Jesus had the tax collectors and “sinners” around him as the Pharisees looked on. Jesus tells three stories here: the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son, better known as the prodigal son.
Each story uses a different object but the lesson is the same. It may seem foolish for the shepherd to go after one sheep and leave the 99 but he knew the 99 would be safe. He went and hunted down the lost one. The woman received 10 coins as a wedding gift but each held a sentimental value like that of a wedding ring and to lose one was distressing. She hunted down the lost one. The father, who had two sons, lost one to the world due to his greed and yet when the son returned, the father ran to him, rejoicing.
This is a picture of God’s love for us. Just as the sheep, coin and son were valuable beyond measure, we are valued by God. But in the two preceding stories the seeker needed to look for the items for them to be found.
But in the story of the son, the father had to watch and wait because he was dealing with a human being who had a will of his own. God’s love for us is patient and constant. He will search for us and give us an opportunity to respond but he will not force us to come to him. Like this father, God will wait for us to come to our senses.
Questions to ponder:
- In what ways is God’s value of people different from ours?
- How have you personally experienced the forgiving love of God?
- To what “undeserving” person can you extend God’s love and forgiveness this week?
- Given this passage, what is the best way for you to pray today?
End with Posture of Silence and Solitude (2 minutes)