5. "A Lost Sheep, a Lost Coin, a Lost Son"

Luke 15:1–32

Jesus finds the lost sheepLooking for her lost coin

Among the 27 or so parables of Jesus, recorded in the gospels, there are a good number that are particularly well known because they deal with salvation. In this week's lesson, Bob will present three well-known salvation parables.
The first two parables of “the lost sheep” and “the lost coin” set the tone for the third parable of “the lost son,” which is better known as “the parable of the prodigal son.” In preparation for a next sermon message about the prodigal son, it's wise to familiarize one’s self with the first two parables.
The three parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son are invitations for us to hear of God’s great joy when we finally come to our senses, repent, and live lives that are pleasing to God. When we come to our senses and come back home to our Heavenly Father, we begin to find life.

To watch this 1-minute video, click its Start arrow.

The Lost Sheep  A clear and simple presentation of the Gospel, this resonant video illustration uses a lost lamb to illustrate the Roman Road and the path to salvation.

Unable to view a movie? You need to activate JavaScript.

The Parable of the Lost Sheep

Luke 15:1–7

-- "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them." This sentence unlocks the meaning of the parable. Jesus portrays two groups of people who were in conflict: the tax collectors/other sinners verses the Pharisees/scribes. We've seen this conflict several times before in the life of Jesus. The Pharisees also grumbled when Jesus ate with Levi, the tax collector (Luke 5:30) [Click to open, then close, each link to Scripture.] But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, "Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?" and also when Jesus stayed at the home of Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector (Luke 19:7).All the people saw this and began to mutter, "He has gone to be the guest of a sinner."
-- Then Jesus told them this parable. This is another one of Jesus’ great stories, created out of everyday, familiar experiences. Jesus taught the truth about God and the kingdom of God by using familiar, common, everyday experiences, such as losing a sheep from the herd or losing a coin in a house.
-- "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?" That was common sense for a shepherd: a sheep gets lost and the shepherd goes to find the one sheep that is lost. Normally, there would be several shepherds caring for a flock of sheep. One shepherd would go out to search for the lost sheep, while the other shepherds would watch the remaining flock.
This passage has always been an invitation for the church to search for that person who has become lost from the faith.

We find three references to the word “joy” in this short parable and two more references to joy in the next parable. There's great joy in God's heart when someone who's lost is found.

The Parable of the Lost Coin

Luke 15:8-10

This parable was addressed to the Pharisees who did not think that they were lost but, actually, they were.

The parable of the lost coin

-- Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? The first word, “Or,” connects this parable to the previous parable. The two use the same theme. There is a focused diligence as both the woman householder and the good shepherd search for what is precious to them and lost.
-- 'Rejoice with me: I have found my lost coin.' The woman is joyful in her heart that she 's found what was lost. This is what makes the parables of Jesus so great: they express a universal experience for all people, regardless of century or culture. So it is with God when someone who 's lost his or her senses about God is found.
-- "In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."Jesus is telling us how happy and joyful God is when we finally are found, when we finally come to our senses and return to God and his ways. Again, the context unlocks the meaning of the parable.

The key word in these first two parables is “repent.” They're an invitation to repent. We know that we need to understand what Jesus meant by us repenting and returning to God. This next parable shows what repentance means.

The Parable of the Prodigal Son

Luke 15:11-32

The parable of the lost sonMany people feel that the parable of the prodigal son is the priceless pearl of Jesus’ parables. It's his finest parable. It's the most valuable story he ever created. Charles Dickens, the great English author, called it “the greatest story ever told.”
-- Jesus continued, "There was a man who had two sons. In the parables of Jesus, it seems that we often find two sons, symbolic of two alternative ways to live life.
-- 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. This son took his inheritance and went down to the first-century equivalent of San Francisco and had quite a time. He pretended that this money was his own hard-earned money; not an inheritance from his father. The good times ran out. He was out of money and food.
-- When he came to his senses, . . . This phrase is a key to this story and our lives as well. “To come to your senses” is the start of repentance.
-- '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 men.' Here's a true confession of the heart. He didn't blame anyone but himself for the stupid mess he was in. He knew that he'd sinned against both God and his father. He 'd found the attitude of true and humble confession.
-- 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 father was so happy that his son who'd been lost finally came home. As he embraced his son, the father could see that look of loving humility in his son’s eyes. The son had come to his moment of truth and knew that he needed to change, in order to find life, happiness, and goodness.
-- So they began to celebrate. Yes, when a lost person is found, that's always an occasion for celebrating, BIG time.

Take our Parables Quiz!

<<< Return to our Home page.