Bible Studies for Life
Luke 15:11-14, 17-24
Chris Allen, pastor
First Baptist Church, Cairo
When the word “lost” is used by Christians or in religious settings, the meaning of the word “lost” may be, for a lack of a better word, lost in translation. All of us know what it means to lose something. All of us have experienced the loss of a family member or a friend. Often, words are used in varying situations to communicate similar meaning and understanding but for our purposes this week, the word “lost” and what it means has eternal significance.
In the Gospel of Luke, Luke gives three examples of lostness back to back to back in chapter 15. Perhaps the most well-known story is that of the prodigal or lost son. The biblical implication of the word “lost” is to be away from God. In verse 24 of our Luke 15, the Greek word translated “lost” literally means “to cause or experience destruction, ruin, destroy, perish.” This describes perfectly the human state with God. We are lost. In the parable of the lost son, Jesus illustrates the human condition: Without Him, we are hopelessly lost.
We choose to live apart from God
The opening section of this parable describes the actions of the younger son. This was an unusual request in Jesus’ day and it still is today. Normally the estate would not be divided until the father could no longer manage it well. This was not the case here. The younger son was choosing to go his own way. He willfully and knowingly chose to move out from under his father’s care, protection, and safety. Similarly, we choose to live apart from God when we choose sin and disobedience instead of obedience. This happens deliberately and naturally. We are prone to disobey God and to go our own way. When we choose to do this, we will experience destruction and separation from God on some level.
It was only a matter of time before the younger son began to feel the weight of his decision. The younger son quickly squandered his inheritance. Perhaps he was chasing the temptations of the world or perhaps he wasted it on wild living. We do not know exactly but we do know where he ended up. For a Jew, there could not have been a worse place than in the company of pigs. This was the lowest of the low for any Jew as the younger son stooped down to partake of the very food he was feeding to the pigs.
We must acknowledge our lost condition and unworthiness
Verse 17 is one of the most significant verses in this passage. Here, as he was sitting in the company of pigs and possibly even eating their food, he came to his senses. Immediately, all the goodness, all the provision, and all the love of his father came flooding back to him. I imagine that the emotional wave may have even brought him to tears as he assessed his current situation. It is in this moment that the younger son realized just how far away he was from His father.
It is worth noting how aware he was of his state. In fact, scripture leads us to believe that he would do anything to be back in the presence of his father. He experienced what it was like when he chose to leave. Now he has come to his senses and realized his need for his father. He expected to be hired by his father as a servant, not to be taken back as his son.
The Father restores us when we return to Him
This section of the parable describes the father’s response. We also get a glimpse into the father’s action while his son was gone. Scripture tells us that the father had been waiting for his son to return. And on this day, the father saw what appeared to be his son returning home and full of compassion, the father ran to meet him. The father accepted him as he was. He did not even listen to the rehearsed speech the younger son had. None of that mattered. The younger son confessed his sins, but the father gave him a robe and gave him a ring and threw a party in his honor because he returned home. The father’s actions restored the son to the same status as he was before. He had all the privileges of an heir.
In August of 2012, a tourist was reported missing in Iceland during a sightseeing trip. The group of tourists she was with formed a search party and began searching for her near Iceland’s Eldga canyon. News spread quickly through the group of the missing passenger. The woman, who had changed clothes, did not recognize the description of herself, and joined in the search. The search was called off at about 3 a.m., when it became clear the missing woman was, in fact, accounted for and searching for herself.
Without Christ, we are like this woman. We are lost, so far removed from God, that we do not even realize our lostness. We need Christ to show us the way to the Father.
Questions to consider:
- Can you remember specific times in the past when you deliberately chose to be apart from God and His ways?
- What circumstance or situation caused you to return to God?
- What does the promise of restoration mean to you?