2019-03-13 / Religion

Recognize your position as a rebel and repent

Sunday School Lesson
Rev. James Temples

Luke 15

It has been correctly stated, “Sin will carry you [downward] farther than you wanted to go, keep you longer than you had planned, and cost you more than you had intended to pay.” This downward slide down the slippery slope of sin began when our first parents — Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:1-6) rebelled against the divine directive. The only way for mankind to know forgiveness and restoration of that lost relationship is to recognize our personal position as a rebel, and accept the divine provision. This provision was made “before the foundation of the world.” 1 Peter 1:19, 20. Much time and effort have been spent in human attempts to by-pass the divine plan. See John 10:1. None of these schemes are acceptable in the divine economy. As Jesus Christ of Nazareth was teaching the people, the “social outcasts” were listening to His words — “Then drew near unto him all the publicans (tax-collectors) and sinners for to hear him.” Luke 15:1. His critics were present, and were always ready to “pounce on” any opportunity to ridicule him and his simple message. “And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with him.” Luke 15:2.

Luke recorded the scene of the teaching of three specific parables. In each of these three, something was “lost.” The first example was that of a sheep. It seems as if distraction could have been the cause of this action. Luke 15:4. The coin could have been lost due to neglect. Luke 15:8. The son was lost by deliberate action and attitude. Luke 15:13. The son is the main focus of the teaching.

From the setting, it seems that all needs of both sons of that family had been met by the father. In this parable, the symbols are quite clear. The father of the house represents our Heavenly Father, the creator of the universe. The sons picture the house of Israel at the time of the ministry of Jesus. Luke recorded, “And the younger of them [the sons] said unto the father, Father, give to me the portion of goods that falleth to me.” Luke 15:12a, b. One can almost sense the broken heart of this father as he carried out the wishes of this son — “And he divided unto them his living.” Luke 15:12c.

The scene changed not many days after this division was made — “the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country.” Luke 15:13a. No details are given, but a vivid description is painted — “and there he wasted his substance (property) with riotous living.” Luke 15:13b.

This young man began his “financial education” regarding simple income and outflow of goods. When he reached the “bottom of the barrel,” there was no more means to support the life-style that had been his custom. “And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.” Luke 15:14. This was the first time in his life that he had experienced this destitute situation. Earlier at home, he had observed enough to know what was necessary for the moment. The construction of the Greek text pictures this young man as he “stuck like glue” to the man he met — “And he joined (glued; cemented) himself to a citizen of that country.” Luke 15:15a. This citizen gave this Jewish boy a job that would have been considered the “bottom of the stack” — “he sent him into the fields to feed swine (hogs).” Luke 15:15b. It seems that the job did not include any kind of food provision. “And he would fain (desired; to set one’s heart on) have filled his belly with the husks (carob pods) that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.” Luke 15:16.

This rebellious young man, now, had time to reflect on the background that he had despised. The Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21) used an interesting wording to picture the next scene. “And when he came to himself.” Luke 15:15a. The picture that this young man saw gave him a shock. He was able to “see” the provisions of the home that he had forsaken, and the blessings that he had decided were not “exciting enough” for him. The “excitement” that he had found in the “far country” held little glamor in the light of the stability and security that he had known. “He said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!” Luke 15:17.

His actions had carried him “farther than he had intended to go.” He made an important decision — “I will arise and go to my father, and say unto him, Father, I have sinned (missed the mark) against heaven, and before thee, And am no longer worthy to be called thy son.” Luke 15:18, 19a. He wanted to make a proposal that he considered to be “reasonable” — “make me as one of thy hired servants.” Luke 15:19b.

Plans not carried out produce no results — “And he arose, and came to his father.” Luke 15:20a. We do not know how “far” this return trip was. To this one, no distance seemed to be too far. The record paints a beautiful picture — “But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.” Luke 15:20b, c.

In the moment of this open-armed greeting, the wayward son began his prepared speech — “Father I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.” Luke 15:21. The remainder of his speech was not delivered — “But the father said, bring forth the best rode, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.” Luke 15:22- 24a. The household response was immediate — “And thy began to be merry.” Luke 15:24b.

The action in that Jewish household reflected the principle taught in the other two parables — “I say unto you, that likewise there shall be joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth.” Luke 15:7; see, also, verse 10. Have you caused “joy in heaven?” If not please accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, today. John 3:16.

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