Luke 15 - Outline of Luke (MENU page)
Luke has seven chief divisions:
I. The Evangelist's Introduction, 1:1-4.
II. The human relationships of Jesus, 1:5- 2:52.
III. The baptism, ancestry, and testing of Jesus, 3:1- 4:13.
IV. The ministry of the Son of man as Prophet-King in Galilee, 4:14- 9:50.
V. The journey of the Son of Man from Galilee to Jerusalem, 9:51- 19:44
VI. The final offer of the Son of man as King to Israel, His rejection and sacrifice, 19:45- 23:56.
VII. The resurrection, the resurrection ministry, and the ascension of the Son of man, 24:1-53.
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The murmuring Pharisees.
(Cf. Mat 9:9-13)
1. Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him.
2 And the Pharisees and scribes murmured,
saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.
The self-righteous Pharisees despised irreligious law breakers. In answer to their criticism, Jesus presents three parables, which illustrate the love of God for lost sinners, and the reason for His coming (Luk 19:10; 1Tim 1:15).
     The first of these parables is similar to one in Matthew. The other two are unique to Luke's Gospel.
Parable of the lost sheep.
(Cf. Mat 18:11-14)
3 And he spake this parable unto them, saying,
4 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them,
doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness,
and go after that which is lost, until he find it?
5 And when he hath found [it],
he layeth [it] on his shoulders, rejoicing.
6 And when he cometh home,
he calleth together [his] friends and neighbours,
saying unto them, Rejoice with me;
for I have found my sheep which was lost.
7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven
over one sinner that repenteth,
{1Pet 2:25}
more than over ninety and nine just persons,
which need no repentance.
{cp. Rom 3:10-12}
That one sheep became lost when it wandered away from the shepherd. The other ninety-nine sheep had no problem following him. Why should the shepherd go out of his way, even risking his life, to search for a trouble maker that might have already become a lion's meal? But the shepherd cared for that one lost sheep, and rejoiced greatly to find it.
     Could the Pharisees, who heard Jesus speaking, detect, in His voice, the compassion of the good Shepherd, who came to seek lost men, like themselves, who had gone astray from God?
cp. Psa 119:176; Isa 53:6; Jer 50:6; Eze 34:8,11,12,16,31; Joh 10:11-18,26-30
     Heaven could not rejoice for the Pharisees, because they could not recognize that they, too, were lost, and in need of the Shepherd. Notice that the Shepherd left the ninety-nine (who considered themselves "just persons, which need no repentance" in "the wilderness," not in the "fold." (This point differs from the similar parable in Matthew 18.) The one lost sheep, having been found, was securely carried "home" on the strong shoulders of the Shepherd (while the others remained lost).
Parable of the lost coin.
8 Either what woman having ten pieces of silver,
if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle,
and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find [it]?
9 And when she hath found [it],
she calleth [her] friends and [her] neighbours together,
saying, Rejoice with me;
for I have found the piece which I had lost.
10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy
in the presence of the angels of God
over one sinner that repenteth.
The implication is that this woman had received the "ten pieces of silver" from her husband at their wedding. The coins would have been strung together and worn across her forehead or around her neck, as a reminder of her marriage vows (much like a wedding ring, today). The absence of this coin damaged the symbol, and called her faithfulness into question. Therefore, she was desperate to find the lost coin.
     Her search was aided by the light of a candle {GK=luchnos, portable lamp}, by which she swept her house. This word for 'sweep' is used only three times in the NT: here, and two other places which both refer to spiritual cleansing of a person's heart, referred to as a 'house' (Mat 12:44; Luk 11:25).
     Christian scholars have typically applied this parable to the Bride of Christ, either...
The above 'Christian' applications were foreign to the Pharisees. However, they knew the OT Scriptures which spoke of Israel as the unfaithful wife of the Lord (eg., Jer 3:1,20; Eze 16:8-18, where the Lord GOD said He decked Israel with gold and silver and established His covenant with her).
     Israel's spiritual adultery (in idolatry and ungodly alliances) had broken that first covenant and led to the Babylonian captivity, about 600 years prior to Christ's first coming. When He came, Israel's land was swept by John's preaching of repentance, and illuminated by the Holy Spirit's witness to Christ. Yet, the nation (including the Pharisees) failed to recognize the Lord, who had come to purchase His 'lost' wife back to Himself and to establish a new covenant with her (Eze 16:60-63; Hos 3:1-5).
Parable of the lost son. (The Parable of the Prodigal son.)
(This parable is unique to Luke's Gospel.)
(Cf. Mat 21:28-32, Parable of two disobedient sons.)
11. And he said, A certain man had two sons:
  (The lost son's departure.)
12 And the younger of them said to [his] father,
Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth [to me].
And he divided unto them [his] living.
13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together,
and took his journey into a far
{distant} country,
and there wasted his substance with riotous living
{ie., living in debauchery}.
In this parable, the 'certain man' is God. His younger son represents the publicans and sinners (v.1), and the elder son represents the Pharisees (v.2).
     "Father, Give me..."- The younger son coveted his father's 'goods' {substance, assets}, but cared little for his father. Unwilling to wait for his father's death, he asked for his portion of the inheritance in advance. The father graciously apportioned his wealth between his sons (cp. Mat 5:44,45). In 'gathering up' the father's wealth and 'departing' from his father, the younger son revealed his true love (1Joh 2:15-17).
     Likewise, the publicans and sinners had given little thought to pleasing God, for they had been living to please themselves (eg., Eph 2:2-3; 1Pet 4:3-5).
  (The lost son's misery in the far country.)
14 And when he had spent all,
there arose a mighty famine in that land;
and he began to be in want
15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country;
{cp. 2Cor 6:14}
and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
{Lev 11:7,8}
16 And he would fain
{he passionately desired to} have filled his belly {Isa 55:2}
with the husks that the swine did eat:
{Psa 73:22}
and no man gave unto him.
{Psa 142:4}
When the funds ('gathered up' from his father) were gone, so were his fun and friends. He took a job. But it was inadequate to satisfy his hunger in the midst of a great famine. If it his boss had allowed, he would have eaten hog food.
     This young Jewish man found himself out of place, in a strange land, serving a stranger (a citizen of a strange land), performing a strange task (tending unclean animals). Eventually, he realized that he did not belong in that country, or in the pig pen. For after all, he had tasted of his father's house and ways. cp. Joh 3:19-21; 1Joh 3:20
  (The lost son's repentance.)
17 And when he came to himself, he said,
How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare,
and I perish with hunger!
{cp. Jer 31:19; Eze 18:27,28}
18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him,
Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,
{cp. Lev 26:39-42; Psa 51:1-4}
19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son:
{cp. Jam 4:8-10; 1Pet 5:6}
make me as one of thy hired servants.
"Father... Make me..." {cf. "...Give me...," v.12}
The change of petition shows a change of attitude. Now humbled by his own failure and foolishness, he sees himself unfit to be known as a son of the father whom he dishonored. He asks to become a hired servant {a hireling, a day laborer}, and thus, to become willingly obedient to his new master.
     True repentance involves disgust with personal sinfulness, and a desire for a new heart free from any hint of disobedience to the heavenly Father's will (eg., Psa 51:6-10). The One, who spoke this parable, came from heaven to answer that prayer, for those who turn to Him in faith (cp. Psa 80:1-3,17-19; Jer 32:38-40; Eze 36:25-27; Joh 1:11-13; 2Cor 5:17; Eph 2:10; 1Joh 3:9).
  (The lost son's return, and the father's response.)
20 And he arose, and came to his father.
But when he was yet a great way off,
his father saw him, and had compassion
{passionate yearning},
and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
{cp. 2Pet 3:9}
21 And the son said unto him,
Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight,
and am no more worthy to be called thy son.
{Psa 32:3-5; Isa 55:7}
22 But the father said to his servants,
Bring forth the best robe, and put [it] on him;
{cp. Isa 61:10}
and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on [his] feet:
The father's love had not ceased when his son walked away. Though he heard reports of his debauchery in the far country, still he yearned for his son's well-being. Long years had passed, yet, he continually watched for his wayward son, longing for his return. (Meanwhile, others held no hope for the boy.)
     One day, the watching father recognized his approaching son, while he was still far away. He ran to close the distance and welcome him home. cp. Rom 5:8
     Upon the sinner's confession, and before he could ask to be hired as a servant, the father took action to confirm his acceptance as a son. cp. Eph 1:6-8
     In this father's compassion for his prodigal son, the love and grace of God toward a repentant sinner is illustrated clearly (Titus 3:5-7). Through the work of Christ, God the Father, clothes the believer with a 'robe' of righteousness (Rom 3:21-24; 1Cor 1:31}, seals him as His son with access and standing before Him ('a ring'; Rom 5:1,2; Eph 1:13), and enables him to walk in the Father's ways and service ('shoes'; Rom 6:4; Eph 6:14,15).
  (The rejoicing.)
23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill [it];
and let us eat, and be merry:
24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again;
{cp. Eph 2:1-10}
he was lost, and is found.
{cp. v.4}
And they began to be merry.
{cp. v.7}
The father's heart of love, grace and joy could hardly be contained.
However, his elder son did not have such a heart.
  (The elder son's displeasure.)
25 Now his elder son was in the field:
and as he came and drew nigh to the house,
he heard musick and dancing.
{Psa 30:11}
26 And he called one of the servants,
and asked what these things meant.
27 And he said unto him, Thy brother is come;
and thy father hath killed the fatted calf,
because he hath received him safe and sound.
28 And he was angry, and would not go in:
therefore came his father out, and intreated him.
29 And he answering said to [his] father,
Lo, these many years do I serve thee,
neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment:
and yet thou never gavest me a kid,
that I might make merry with my friends:
30 But as soon as this thy son was come,
which hath devoured thy living with harlots,
thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.
31 And he said unto him,
Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.
32 It was meet
{right, needful} that we should make merry, and be glad:
for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again;
and was lost, and is found.
"If the younger son pictures the repentant sinner, the elder son accurately represents the spirit of the Pharisee. The one was hungry and went in: the other was angry and stayed out. The arrival of grace always divides men into these two classes - those who know they are worthy of nothing, and those who imagine themselves to be worthy of more than they have got."
     "Said the elder son, 'Thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends.' So he too found his society and pleasure in a circle of friends outside his father's circle. The only difference was in the character of the friends - the younger son's were disreputable, while his presumably, were respectable. The self-righteous religionist is no more in real communion with the heart of the Father than is the prodigal; and he ends up still outside while the prodigal is brought within."
     [The two quoted paragraphs, above, are from, FBHole]
Note the tragedy of v.31,32 -
     Although the Pharisees were privileged to have God's Word, including the prophetic promises of the coming Redeemer, they failed to avail themselves of God's gift of salvation by Grace through faith in Christ. Therefore, they remained dead in sin and lost, while those whom they despised were finding life in Christ. Paul, a former Pharisee, explains his change of heart, in Rom 10:1-10; Php 3:3-11.

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