Luke 15

This is unprecedented! Search the Scriptures is doing a whole chapter of Luke in one go. I reckon it's because the three parables Jesus tells are all similar – but it's important to remember that they aren't the same, or Luke would only have included one. It begins with the Pharisees grumbling that Jesus spends times with "sinners", though Jesus doesn't specifically address the Pharisees in his response until the end of the third parable. The first two emphasise that it's worth the effort to retrieve something that was lost, rather than just sticking with what stuck with you. The coin in the second story is usually interpreted as being part of a necklace or headband worn like a wedding ring today – otherwise we must hope that the party she threw cost less than one coin! But it's clear that grace is abundant, grace makes huge effort for a seemingly small gain, grace rejoices when it suceeds. Grace takes the initiative, even when it's the sheep's own stupid fault for wondering off.

I think that in the third story – the well known story of the prodigal son (I found out recently that 'prodigal' means 'generous', since the son was generous with the money that he had before it ran out), Jesus may be trying to focus on the Pharisees rather than God. Of course we learn of God from this story – how he is longing for us to return to him and will run to meet us if we show the slightest sign and then will throw a huge party before the angels. That is amazing and well worth spending time thinking about. But I think the focus might be on the older son. The father's response seems portrayed as what you would expect – of course a father's love means that he will forgive a son's stupidity and be overjoyed to have him return. What would you expect? But in contrast with this, the other son – who has never been wronged by his younger brother as the father has – seems unexpectedly sulky. Given that Jesus told these parables in response to grumbling of the Pharisees, I wonder if the point of this story was to point out how silly they were being. If God will unhesitatingly respond to the repentance of his children – we aren't even talking about gentiles here, but Israelites who have been living apart from God's rule and are now returning to it – why wouldn't the leaders be overjoyed by that as well. Why would you sulk and complain that you never had a goat when the whole kingdom of heaven will be yours. Why would I? Am I guilty of not rejoicing when people who God 'shouldn't' save because of whatever stupid reason I've made up are saved? Or just of not rejoicing fullstop, despite the fact that I know what an amazing miracle rebirth is.

I really want to spend more time praising and thanking God that there are Christians, that he has chosen and allowed many many people to become his children – something we would never have chosen to do if it wasn't for his initiating it.

Heavenly Father, I praise you that you have made sure that Jesus will be the first among many many brothers in heaven. I thank you that you worked in my life and in the lives of many people I know and many many more that I won't ever meet this side of heaven. I'm sorry that I am flippant about the miracles you achieve, and that I can be self-righteous when considering the others that you have chosen. I have nothing to commend myself, except the perfect blood of Christ. Will you share that blessing with many more people, and let me only ever be glad. Thank you for your amazing grace. Amen.

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