Luke 15#Lu 15:1| XCII. SECOND GREAT GROUP OF PARABLES. (Probably in Peraea.) A. INTRODUCTION. #Lu 15:1,2| Now all the publicans and sinners were drawing hear unto him to hear. For publicans see TFG "Mt 5:46", and for eating with them see TFG "Mr 2:16". The Pharisees classed as "sinners" all who failed to observe the traditions of the elders, and especially their traditional rules of purification. It was not so much the wickedness of this class as their legal uncleanness that made it wrong to eat with them. Compare #Ga 2:12,13|. (TFG 499) #Lu 15:2| And both the Pharisees and scribes murmured. In answer to their murmuring, Jesus spoke three parables, in which he set forth the yearnings of redemptive love. Having thus replied to the Pharisees, Jesus continued his discourse, adding two other parables, concerning the right employment of worldly goods, and ending with some teaching concerning offenses, etc. We defer comparing the parables until we have discussed them. (TFG 499-500) #Lu 15:3| XCII. SECOND GREAT GROUP OF PARABLES. (Probably in Peraea.) B. PARABLE OF THE LOST SHEEP. #Lu 15:3-7| And he spake unto them this parable. Jesus had spoken this parable before. See notes at #Mt 18:12-14|. (TFG 500) #Lu 15:4| What man of you. "Man" is emphatic; it is made so to convey the meaning that if man would so act, how much more would God so act. Having a hundred sheep. A large flock. Doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness. The place of pasture, and hence the proper place to leave them. And go after that which is lost, until he find it? The ninety-nine represent the Jewish respectability, and the lost sheep stands for a soul which has departed from that respectability. (TFG 500) #Lu 15:5| And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. A touch suggesting the weakness of the sheep and the willing affection of the shepherd. (TFG 500) #Lu 15:6| Rejoice with me. #Heb 12:2|. For I have found my sheep which was lost. The call implies that the loss was known to the neighbors, and that they felt concerned about it. Had the Pharisees been neighbors to the spirit of Christ, they would have sympathized with him in his joy; but they were false undershepherds (#Eze 34:1-6|). (TFG 500) #Lu 15:7| There shall be joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine righteous persons, who need no repentance. How little Jesus thought of external morality may be seen by his words at #Lu 18:9|, but he here quoted the Pharisees at their own valuation to show that even when so doing, God's love for the sinner was the paramount love. (TFG 500-501) #Lu 15:8| XCII. SECOND GREAT GROUP OF PARABLES. (Probably in Peraea.) C. PARABLE OF THE LOST COIN. #Lu 15:8-10| Or what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a lamp. Because Oriental houses are commonly without windows, and therefore dark. Until she find it? The phrase "till she find it," which is practically repeated in both parables (#Lu 15:4|), is a sweet source of hope; but it is not to be pressed so as to contradict other Scripture. (TFG 501) #Lu 15:9| And when she hath found it, she calleth together her friends and neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. The drachma, or piece of silver, corresponded to the Latin denarius, and was worth about seventeen cents. The woman, having only ten of them, was evidently poor. Such small coin have been for centuries worn by Oriental women as a sort of ornamental fringe around the forehead. #Lu 15:10| There is joy. #Eze 33:11|. In the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth. By thus reaffirming the heavenly joy (#Lu 15:7|), Jesus sought to shame the Pharisees out of their cold-blooded murmuring (#Lu 15:2|) (TFG 501) #Lu 15:11| XCII. SECOND GREAT GROUP OF PARABLES. (Probably in Peraea.) D. PARABLE OF THE LOST SON. #Lu 15:11-32| A certain man had two sons. These two sons represent the professedly religious (the elder) and the openly irreligious (the younger). They have special reference to the two parties found in \\#Lu 15:1,2\-the Pharisees, the publicans and sinners. (TFG 501) #Lu 15:12| And the younger of them. The more childish and easily deceived. Said to his father, Father, give me the portion of thy substance that falleth to me. Since the elder brother received a double portion, the younger brother's part would be only one-third of the property (#De 21:17|). And he divided unto them his living. Abraham so divided his estate in his lifetime (#Ge 25:1-6|); but the custom does not appear to have been general among the Jews. God, however, gives gifts and talents to us all, so the parable fits the facts of life (#Ps 145:9 Mt 5:45| #Ac 10:34|). (TFG 502) #Lu 15:13| And not many days after. With all haste. The younger son gathered all together and took his journey into a far country. He yearned for the spurious liberty of a land where he would be wholly independent of his father. Thus the sinful soul seeks to escape from the authority of God. And there he wasted his substance with riotous living. Sin now indulges itself with unbridled license, and the parable depicts the sinner's course: his season of indulgences (#Lu 15:12,13|); his misery (#Lu 15:14-16|); his repentance (#Lu 15:17-20|); his forgiveness (#Lu 15:20-24|). On the phrase "riotous living," see TFG "Lu 15:19". (TFG 502) #Lu 15:14| And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that country; and he began to be in want. Sooner or later sinful practices fail to satisfy, and the sense of famine and want mark the crises in our lives as they did in the life of the prodigal. The direst famine is that of the word of God (#Am 8:11-13 Jer 2:13 |). (TFG 502) #Lu 15:15| Joined himself. Literally, "glued." He sent him into his fields to feed swine. Literally, "to pasture" or "tend." This was, to the Jew, the bottom of degradation's pit. They so abhorred swine that they refused to name them. They spoke of a pig as dabhar acheer; that is, "the other thing." (TFG 502) #Lu 15:16| And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. The master upon whom he had forced himself did not deem his services worthy of enough food to sustain life; so that he would gladly have eaten the husks or pods of the carob bean, which are very similar to our honey-locust pods, if they would have satisfied his hunger. (TFG 502-503) #Lu 15:17| But when he came to himself. His previous state had been one of delusion and semi-madness (#Ec 9:3|); in it his chief desire had been to get away from home, but returning reason begets a longing to return thither. (TFG 503) #Lu 15:19| I am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. The humility of his confession indicates that the phrase "riotous living" (#Lu 15:13|) means more than merely a reckless expenditure of money. But vile as he was he trusted that his father's love was sufficient to do something for him. (TFG 503) #Lu 15:20| And he arose, and came to his father. Repentance is here pictured as a journey. It is more than a mere emotion or impulse. But while he was yet afar off, his father saw him. Being evidently on the lookout for him. And was moved with compassion. Seeing his ragged, pitiable condition. And ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. Giving him as warm a welcome as if he had been a model son. (TFG 503) #Lu 15:21| Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight: I am no more worthy to be called thy son. The son shows a manly spirit in adhering to his purpose to make a confession, notwithstanding the warmth of his father's welcome; in grieving for what he had done, and not for what he had lost; and in blaming no one but himself. (TFG 503) #Lu 15:22| But the father said to his servants. Interrupting the son in his confession. And shoes on his feet. None but servants went barefooted. (TFG 503, 504) #Lu 15:23| And bring the fatted calf, and kill it, and let us eat, and make merry. The fatted calf, according to Eastern custom, was held in readiness for some great occasion (#Ge 18:7 1Sa 28:24 2Sa 6:13|), and which some custom still exists. And kill it, and let us eat, and make merry. The robe, ring, etc., are merely part of the parabolic drapery, and are so many sweet assurances of full restoration and forgiveness, and are not to be pressed beyond this. (TFG 503) #Lu 15:24| For this my son was dead. The condition of the impenitent sinner is frequently expressed in the Bible under the metaphor of death (#Ro 6:13 Eph 2:1 5:14 Re 3:1|). (TFG 504) #Lu 15:25| Now. Having thus finished his account of the openly irreligious, Jesus now turns to portray that of the professedly religious; that is, he turns from the publican to the Pharisee. He paints both parties as alike children of God, as both faulty and sinful in his sight, and each as being loved despite his faultiness. But while the story of the elder son had a present and local application to the Pharisees, it is to be taken comprehensively as describing all the self-righteous who murmur at and refuse to take part in the conversion of sinners. His elder son was in the field. At work. And as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing. He heard evidences of joy, a joy answering to that mentioned at #Lu 15:7,10|; the joy of angels in seeing the publicans and sinners repenting and being received by Jesus--the joy at which the Pharisees had murmured. (TFG 504) #Lu 15:28| But he was angry, and would not go in. He refused to be a party to such a proceeding. And his father came out, and entreated him. In the entreating father Jesus pictures the desire and effort of God then and long afterwards put forth to win the proud, exclusive, self-righteous spirits which filled the Pharisees and other Jews (#Lu 13:34 Ac 13:44-46 28:22-28|). (TFG 504) #Lu 15:29| Lo, these many years do I serve thee. Literally, "I am thy slave." And I never transgressed a commandment of thine. He speaks with the true Pharisaic spirit (#Lu 18:11,12 Ro 3:9|). His justification was as proud as the prodigal's confession was humble. And yet thou never gavest me a kid. Much less a calf. That I might make merry with my friends. He reckons as a slave, so much pay for so much work, and his complaint suggests that he might have been as self-indulgent as his brother had he not been restrained by prudence. (TFG 504-505) #Lu 15:30| But when this thy son came. He thus openly disclaims him as a brother. Who hath devoured thy living with harlots. And not decent friends such as mine. (TFG 505) #Lu 15:31| Son, thou art ever with me. A privilege which the elder brother had counted as naught, or rather as slavery. And all that is mine is thine. See #Ro 9:4,5|. The younger brother had the shoes, etc. (#Lu 15:22|), but the elder still had the inheritance. (TFG 505) #Lu 15:32| But it was meet to make merry and be glad. #Ac 11:18|. For this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found. Here the story ends. We are not told how the elder brother acted, but we may read his history in that of the Jews who refused to rejoice with Jesus in the salvation of sinners. At the next Passover they carried their resentment against him to the point of murder, and some forty years later the inheritance was taken from them. Thus we see that the elder brother was not pacified by the father. He continued to rebel against the father's will till he himself became the lost son. A comparison of the three preceding parables brings out many suggestive points, thus: The first parable (#Lu 15:3-7|) illustrates Christ's compassion. A sentient, suffering creature is lost, and it was bad for it that it should be so. Hence it must be sought, though its value is only one out of a hundred. Man's lost condition makes him wretched. The second parable (#Lu 15:8-10|) shows us how God values a soul. A lifeless piece of metal is lost, and while it could not be pitied, it could be valued, and since its value was one out ten, it was bad for the owner that it should be lost. God looks upon man's loss as his impoverishment. The first two parables depict the efforts of Christ in the salvation of man, or that side of conversion more apparent, so to speak, to God; while the third (#Lu 15:11-32|) sets forth the responsive efforts put forth by man to avail himself of God's salvation-- the side of conversion more apparent to us. Moreover, as the parabolic figures become more nearly literal, as we pass from sheep and coin to son, the values also rise, and instead of one from a hundred, or one from ten, we have one out of two! (TFG 505-506)
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