Tuesday, November 28, 2017


Part 3 of Two Lost Sons

Text: Luke 15:11-32

[The older son] answered his father, “Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends” (v. 29). 

He Doesn't Deserve This!

Question: Should we always want to get what we deserve? In Luke 15, Jesus tells three parables: the parable of the lost sheep, the parable of the lost coin, and the parable of the lost son. In each parable, there is great joy when what was lost is found (vv. 6, 9, 22-24).

In the first two parables, everyone celebrates when what was lost is found. But the third parable is different. Not everyone is happy. The older son is angry (v. 28). He’s thinking, “My brother doesn’t deserve this! I deserve this!” (vv. 29-30).

What Makes God Celebrate?

The older son is like the Pharisees and scribes (i.e., religious leaders) who had grumbled about Jesus eating with tax collectors and sinners (vv. 1-2). The parables in Luke 15 were meant to teach the Pharisees and scribes that there is always great joy in heaven when one lost person (i.e., someone who needs reconciliation with God) repents of his or her sin. (There always needs to be repentance before reconciliation can occur.) God celebrates—throws a party in heaven—whenever one sinner repents (vv. 7, 10).

Both Sons Were Lost

Both sons were lost. Both sons didn’t love their father. Both sons needed reconciliation. There are two ways to be lost. You can be lost be being bad (like the younger son), and you can be lost by being good (like the older son).

Jesus says, “There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance” (v. 7). Jesus is speaking ironically. When he says, “Righteous persons who need no repentance,” he means, “People who think they are righteous and think they have no need to repent.” People like the older son (and the Pharisees and scribes) think they have no need to repent.

Where do we find people like the older son? In churches. There is no delight in their religion, only duty. Where does the delight (i.e., joy) come from? It comes from an appreciation for God’s grace. By saying, “My brother doesn’t deserve this!”, the older brother reveals that he doesn’t value grace. 

Jesus Didn't Deserve That!

Imagine standing before the cross. What would you be thinking? “He doesn’t deserve this!” Jesus didn’t deserve that! But he chose to endure that. Why? So that you and I could be treated in a way we don’t deserve. Jesus chose the suffering of the cross so that our sins could be forgiven. We aren’t forgiven because of what we’ve done to atone for our sins. We’re forgiven because of what Jesus has done to atone for our sins. That’s grace.

I Don't Deserve This!

When I understand God’s grace, I say, “I don’t deserve this!” Should we always want to get what we deserve? No, it’s a mistake to demand that we should always get what we deserve. God’s justice demands that there should be punishment for my sin; God’s grace gave Jesus to die in my place on the cross. “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23).

God deserves everything I can give him. “He deserves this!”

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