Luke 15:32 “This brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”
Using simple, homespun images, Jesus expresses profound truths in a way that holds his audience captive. His parables (concise short stories) have won high praise, even from literary experts who do not accept their spiritual message. Some of the most famous of these parables appear only in Luke’s Gospel.
The three stories in Luke 15 stir up feelings for the lost—and for the loser. A shepherd scours the hillside in a frantic search for a missing sheep. A woman turns her house upside down over a lost silver coin. A runaway son thumbs his nose at a life of comfort and ends up half-starved in a pigpen. In a few brief sentences, Jesus’ parables tug at feelings of loss and remorse that lie buried just beneath the surface in all of us.
Yet all three parables end the same: Spectacular good news floods in to replace the sadness, and partying breaks out. All the parables point to the limitless love of God for those in real need. God stands ready to forgive all those who cry out to him.
The parable of the lost son actually tells the story of two sons, one irresponsible, the other hardworking. One wastes his life and comes home humbled; the other proudly refuses to celebrate his brother’s homecoming. The story ends with one son inside, enjoying a joyful family celebration; his brother lingers outside, bitterly unwilling to forgive. Which son is really lost?
When did you lose something important and then find it again?