Bible Discussion — Luke 14 and 15

April 2, 2008, 12:30 pm; posted by
Filed under Bible, Chloe, Connie, David, Erin, Josh J, Steve  | No Comments

This week, looks at the next two chapters of Luke, Luke 14-15.

Genesis: 1-4 | 5-9 | 10-14 | 15-18 | 19-22 | 23-26
27-29 | 30-32 | 33-36 | 37-39 | 40-43 | 44-46 | 47-50
Exodus: 1-4 | 5-8 | 9-11 | 12-14 | 15-18
19-22 | 23-26 | 27-30 | 31-34 | 35-40
Romans: Ch. 1 | Ch. 2 | Ch. 3 | Ch. 4 | Ch. 5 | Ch. 6 | Ch. 7 | Ch. 8 (I)
Ch. 8 (II) | Ch. 9 | Ch. 10 | Ch. 11 | Ch. 12 | Ch. 13 | Ch. 14 | Ch. 15-16
Luke: 1:1-38 | 1:39-2:40 | 2:41-3:38 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13

The contrast between these two chapters is noteworthy. In ch. 14, Jesus addresses scribes and Pharisees during a social event at a chief Pharisee’s house, and rebukes the guests (v. 7), the host (v. 12), and the entire nation of Israel (vv. 16-24), while challenging their commitment to follow Him.

In ch. 15, He addresses publicans and sinners, and it\’s all about how anxious God is to have them saved, how happy that salvation makes heaven (v. 10), and how happy it should make the rest of us (v. 32).

After the man finds his lost sheep, he calls together his friends AND neighbors, and has a party to celebrate. I know it’s a metaphor for the lost sinner, but it made me wonder what all those people will eat during this party? Hopefully not all of his other sheep, hmm?

The father gives the lost son the best robe, a ring, and a party with a fattened calf for the meal. But what never occurred to me before is that since the lost son took his inheritance, the father is using what is rightfully the good son\’s to supply this party. I can see why he\’s sore about it.

Peace is always an option instead of war, even when two armies are getting ready to fight (14:31-33).

Jesus preempts the Pharisaical protests to healing on the Sabbath by asking them if it’s okay in advance (14:3).

Josh: The Other Son
Chloe: Famine
David: Lost Coin
Steve: Dropsy; Pig Pods
Connie: Bread Enough
Erin: Five Yoke of Oxen

Dan Tabolt telling me as a young Christian that the angels “flip out” when someone gets saved.

A brilliant retelling of Luke 14:13-14, on a now-defunct website that starred the Hideous Jabbering Head of Abraham Lincoln. Fortunately, I printed it out!

I know the Lost Son has been retold more times than any other parable, with the possible exception of the Good Samaritan. A few summers ago, I jumped on the bandwagon, with a camper drama troupe I was leading. The kids helped me write our modern interpretation, and they did a great job with the performance. My favorite moment came during the rock-bottom portion of the story, when our prodigal reached into the trash bag he was carrying, to enjoy a half-eaten candy bar.

I heard about a missionary who went to some Bedouin tribes. He told them the story of the lost son, and right at that incredibly touching moment when the father got up and ran to meet his son, the listeners burst out laughing.

In that culture, which is closer to the culture of Jesus\’ time than ours, the patriarch would sit in his tent and the son would come in and pay his proper respects. The idea of the patriarch getting up and making a complete fool of himself by running out to meet his son was hilarious to them. The idea, however, of God making a complete fool of Himself to welcome us home is rather sobering and humbling.

Well, not a story, but a hymn (one that\’s always had a lot of publicity, presumably for its hopeful message): Amazing Grace.

In all three parables in ch. 15, God is seeking his own. His sheep, His coin, His son. We belonged to Him long before we fell under the dominion of the evil one, and He never relinquishes this ownership while “Today” is still being called.

In context, the parable of the Prodigal Son isn’t just a story about God’s great forgiveness for the profligate lost. Jesus was very specifically talking about the two groups of people who were standing there, listening to Him, and although the Prodigal was likely a dramatic exaggeration, the older son was an exact representation of the “muttering” Pharisees and lawyers. This, I think, answers a lot of our nagging questions about the parable.

Look at them at the start: “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” The nerve! And then in the parable: “The older brother became angry and refused to go in . . . ‘All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed . . .’ ” Christ identifies their attitude as a mixture of pride and despair, and shows just as much compassion for them as for the unwashed they despised. Everything God had was theirs, but they were too busy straining out gnats to realize it.

I have often heard 14:34 used to endorse extreme legalism. If I cannot be salt and light in the world without having “saltiness,” then what exactly does that saltiness comprise? And what do I have to do to lose it? I have never understood this as an us-and-them mentality (“us” as salty, “them” not) and yet, here it seems to be the easiest way for a Christian reader to understand Jesus\’ metaphor.

Yet, as a professor whom I respect once said to me, the best metaphors are those that are incomplete. We have to remember that people aren\’t simply foods, either salty or not; we are multifaceted beings meant to strive in every area to bring glory to God. And when I say that we are meant to strive, I say this only because sin prevents us from being able to do it automatically.

Take chapter 14 (vv. 12, 26) out of context, and you might think Jesus was opposed to families. Another good reason not to do it!

What was going on with the older son while the younger was off squandering his inheritance? (15:11-32) What\’s his story?

There\’s one in every crowd. Some guy has to sit next to Jesus during the feast and try to impress Him with His knowledge of what\’s going to happen in heaven.

15:20 — “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.”

Erin; Steve:
14:11 — “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Chloe, Josh:
15:7 — “I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.”

What exactly Christ meant when He said we must hate our families to be His disciple. The word choice seems decidedly out of character.

I want to know how people understood Christ’s parables at the time. Did the Pharisees fully understand that although they were so often the targets in the stories, there was always an underlying theme of God’s abiding love for them?

How did the Prodigal Son story end? Did the older brother see the error of his ways and end up celebrating with his family eventually?

God expects much more from the “found” (ch. 14) than He does from the “lost” (ch. 15). From those to whom much has been given, much is demanded.

Too many Christians treat our faith like a club, where dues must be paid, and latecomers are not welcome. But if we really know the Father, we will rejoice when He rejoices.

These two chapters illustrate so well the relationship between God and the people He loves. He loves the ones who squander the inheritance He gives them — He loves the ones who use their natural advantages to keep others out. This love does not prevent Him from correcting or convicting them, but fundamentally, He offers everyone the same opportunity, the same love, the same glorious, undeserved salvation.

All three parables in ch. 15 illustrate that finding the lost should produce joy. The first and second teach it plainly, while the third illustrates it, using an older brother with an attitude problem. Sheep and coins harbor no jealousy; humans do.

These two chapters were pretty easy to understand, with their focus on the universal nature of God’s love for humanity, but as Christ’s death approaches, we will see His parables begin to grow darker. The foreshadowing of the cross is picking up.


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