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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
November 26, 2017
Rejoicing over the Repentant
I trust that our six week series in celebration of the 500th anniversary of the start of the Reformation has been helpful to you as we have contemplated the great truths of the five solas. Because Scripture alone is our final authority, we are confident in knowing the truth about God and His granting of salvation by His grace alone through faith alone in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ alone and that all things are for God’s glory alone.
Please turn to Luke 15 as we return to our study of the Life of Christ this morning. Since we have had such a long break from this study, let me set the context for our study today by reminding you of what has already occurred.
Jesus is somewhere in Galilee heading south to Jerusalem but going slowly for He is teaching in the various cities and villages as He goes. He has been in contention with the Pharisees and lawyers and particular so after healing a man of dropsy on a Sabbath and rebuking them with parables that exposed their pride. (See: Characteristics of Godliness: Compassion and Humility) Large crowds were once again following Him and He has challenged them about what it would mean to follow Him as a disciple. He wanted them to count the cost carefully so that they would not turn back once they started. They would need to be willing to give up their possessions, family and even life, yet the cost of holding on to those things and not following Jesus would be even higher. (See: Counting the Costs) To gain the whole world and lose your soul is a poor exchange. The price you are willing to pay in following Jesus is dependent upon two factors. First, whether the temporal, the here and now, or your eternal future is more important to you. Second, whether you believe you exist to serve yourself or whether you exist to serve the God who created and sustains you.
Jesus did not follow modern ideas of marketing for He was too direct and offensive in what He said. He would not be a featured speaker as a church growth seminar. Yet, as we begin chapter 15, we find there are more people coming to hear Him.
The Setting – Luke 15:1-3
1 Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him. 2 Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” 3 So He told them this parable, saying . . .”
It is important to note several points here in order to understand what Jesus will be teaching in the three parables that will follow. First, Jesus’ teaching has attracted the attention of tax gatherers and sinners. Tax gathers were especially despised. In addition to the fact that most people do not like to pay taxes, they were considered to be thieves because they often overcharged and made themselves wealthy. But worse was the fact that these were Jews that collected taxes for Rome and therefore were considered to be traitors to the nation. Sinners, as used here, is a broad term used to designate all sorts of people that lived contrary to the Mosaic law. It would include all who lived in an immoral manner and those that were irreligious. The Pharisees would use the same term even more broadly to also include those that did not keep their traditions.
There would be a variety of reasons tax-gathers and sinners would be attracted to hear Jesus. There is no doubt some were coming because they heard about Jesus rebuking the religious leaders and it would make them happy to see that. Certainly some were just curious about Jesus and were joining the crowds going to hear Him. There is also no doubt that some were coming because they were finding hope in what Jesus was teaching.
Second, the Pharisees are grumbling about Jesus receiving sinners and dining with them. They are expressing their displeasure in an emphatic way with their complaining. They had done this before. In Luke 5:30 we find the Pharisees and scribes grumbling at Jesus’ disciples and questioning why He was eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners. In Luke 7:34 Jesus comments that the Pharisees were accusing Him of being a gluttonous man and a drunkard because he was a friend of tax collectors and sinners. The Pharisees prided themselves on staying aloof from such people which is why a Pharisee that had invited Jesus to dine with him was appalled when Jesus let a woman who as a known sinner wash His feet and anoint them with perfume. Luke 7:39 records that the Pharisee said to himself, “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner” with the expectation that if Jesus knew, then He would not have allowed the woman to touch Him.
We get an insight into how strong this idea was within the culture from Peter’s comment in Acts 10:28 when he met with Cornelius saying, “you yourselves know how unlawful it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him; and yet God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean.” Peter was not a Pharisee, yet he was infected with the same idea that holiness required him to keep his distance from those considered unclean, which would have included Gentiles. Jesus was not only associating with tax-gathers, considered worse than Gentiles, but also eating with them and sinners which is much worse. They did not believe Jesus could be a righteous man and do that.
Third, Jesus is responding by telling a series of parables. A parable is a real to life story used to teach a particular lesson. The various parts of the story are used to support that lesson. This is in contrast to an allegory in which the various parts of the story carry additional meanings. In addition, the meaning of a parable must be set by how it would have been understood by those to whom it was told, so it must be understood within their culture. Many commentaries treat parables as allegories and make very speculative conclusions not supported by the text and contrary to that culture.
Fourth, Jesus is specifically telling these parables to the Pharisees. The rest of the crowd is also listening, but Jesus is directing what He is saying to these Pharisees who are grumbling. Jesus had already specifically told other Pharisees who were grumbling over the same issue, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:31-32). These parables will prove to be consistent with that teaching and what He had just taught the Pharisees and lawyers in the story of the banquet in Luke 14 about going out into the highways and byways to invite people to it.
The Parable of the Lost Sheep – Luke 15:4-7
4 “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? 5 “When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 “And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ 7 “I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
This is a story that they would have easily understood since shepherds and sheep were such a common sight in Israel, but it is not a story they would have related to personally very well. The Pharisees considered shepherds to be at or near the bottom of acceptable Jewish society and just above sinners. Since sheep need constant care and are often in fields far from towns, it was difficult for shepherds to participate in Jewish social life and in particular the many religious rituals. Most would only be in the Temple rarely and in the synagogues sporadically. Even so, they would have understood the need of a shepherd to find a lost sheep and rejoicing when it was found, if for no other reason than they were lovers of money and they understood the value of a sheep.
I once said sheep were stupid and was corrected by someone who raised sheep who explained that sheep were intelligent, but very helpless. They have no defense against predators being neither able to run away quickly nor kick or bite defensively. They have to be led to pastures to feed and water to drink being unable to find those things on their own very well. And if a sheep somehow gets on its back, it cannot right itself and will die with its feet sticking up in the air. A sheep that is lost is in grave danger, so the shepherd must quickly go out and find it.
A hundred sheep is a large flock, which means there would be other shepherds to watch the other ninety-nine while he goes out to find the lost sheep. After he finds it, he puts it over his shoulders to carry it back. That sounds easier than it is since a mature lamb can be 80-100 lbs and a full grown sheep two to three times that amount depending on the breed. But Jesus points out here that even though it will be strenuous labor to carry the sheep home, the shepherd is rejoicing. When the shepherd does get home he shares that joy with his friends and neighbors and calls them to come rejoice with him.
Jesus then applies the point of the parable. In the same way that the shepherd was more happy about the lost sheep being found than the ninety-nine other sheep remaining safely in their proper place, so there is more joy in heaven over a sinner that repents than ninety-nine righteous people that do not need to repent. Such is the value of one soul to God. That is a great encouragement to those who labor for the Lord and see few respond. Even one is cause of great joy in heaven.
Though it may seem strange to us, this was actually the opposite of the view of the Pharisees who believed that God rejoices when those who provoke Him perish from the world. This is another case where their traditions had perverted their thinking resulting in conclusions opposite of the Scriptures. After a stern warning that the soul that sins will die, God states in Ezekiel 18:21-23, 21 “But if the wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed and observes all My statutes and practices justice and righteousness, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 22 “All his transgressions which he has committed will not be remembered against him; because of his righteousness which he has practiced, he will live. 23 “Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,” declares the Lord GOD, “rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?” That rhetorical question is answered in verse 32 that He does not have pleasure in such a death Therefore, repent and live.” The same theme is repeated in Ezekiel 33:11 where the Lord God declares, “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?”
Let me quickly add here that the comparison between the one and the ninety-nine may be more pointed that it might seem. It is obvious that sheep that do not stray do not need to be rescued, so while there can be happiness that you do not have to go out looking for them, there is no exuberant joy that they have done what they are supposed to do. However, the Scriptures are clear that all we like sheep have gone astray and each has turned to his own way (Isaiah 53:6). The Scriptures also make it clear that there are none righteous with Psalm 14:1, 3 specifically stating that “there is no one that does good” and Isaiah 64:6 stating that “all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment” before our holy God. They would have known these verses, so the statement of comparison is either a hypothetical fantasy to simply emphasize the joy over a sinner that repents, or it is also a rebuke of their self-righteousness. There is no rejoicing in heaven over the self-righteous who do not recognize their need of repentance.
Before I go to the next parable, let me quickly remind you of the nature of repentance so that you understand why Jesus says a repentant sinner causes so much joy in heaven.
Jesus began His ministry by calling people to “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17), and that remains a key aspect of the gospel message even today. Luke 24:47 records Jesus instructing His disciples after His resurrection that it was written “that repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” He then charged them to do just that.
The earlier quote from Ezekiel already explains the basic nature of repentance as turning from practices of wickedness and sin against God’s commands and turning to observing God’s statutes, righteousness and justice. Repentance is a change of mind resulting in a change of direction. Those who restrict repentance to only a claimed change of mind pervert the meaning of the term and commit intellectual suicide. Simply put, if there is no change in behavior, there was no change of mind. To say you have changed your mind without a corresponding change of action is to prove yourself to be either a liar or delusional. For example, you are driving down the road and are pulled over by a very kind officer who warns you about your speeding and you tell him you will slow down and obey the speed limit. What should the same officer do the next day when he pulls you over doing the same thing? You certainly can’t tell him you repented, and the ticket you get will remind you that claiming a change of mind without a corresponding change of action only confirms your guilt.
The call of repentance (metanoevw / metanoeō ) throughout the scripture is well defined in the Louw-Nida Greek lexicon as “to change one’s way of life as a result of a complete change of thought and attitude with regard to sin and righteousness.” In the context of Luke 15, repentance refers to the sinner who had turned from sin and self to have faith in the Savior and receive salvation. This is the repentance without regret unto salvation as Paul describes it in 2 Corinthians 7:9-10. That is why there is such rejoicing in heaven. People are fickle, so a change of mind gives little reason to rejoice, for the person could just as easily change their mind again. But true repentance gives great cause for rejoicing for it signifies salvation.
The Parable of the Lost Coin – Luke 15:8-10
Jesus quickly tells another very similar parable to emphasize His point. 8 “Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 “When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost!’ 10 “In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Again, this is a story they would have easily understood, but not one the self-righteous Pharisees would want to identify with since a common morning prayer among them was to thank God they were not a Gentile, a slave or a woman.
In this parable, a woman has lost one of her ten silver coins. How she lost it is immaterial, but it is obviously important to her since she makes such a diligent search for it. She lights a lamp because the mud walled houses of that time either did not have windows or they were small, so it would have been dark inside. She carefully sweeps through the house in a diligent search to find where it had been misplaced or perhaps fallen on the compacted dirt floor and covered. When she does finally find it, she is filled with joy and calls her friends and neighbors to rejoice with her.
Once again Jesus gives the specific application of the story though it is slightly different from the previous one. In a manner similar to this woman and her friends, there is joy in front of the angels of God over one sinner that repents. The mentioning of the angels of God clarifies that heaven mentioned in the previous parable is the dwelling place of God. There is rejoicing in heaven before the angels of God when even one sinner repents. Jesus does not repeat anything here about righteous people that do not need repentance. The emphasis here is only on the rejoicing that occurs in heaven.
In both of these parables there is a loss and the owner searches for what was lost. The sheep is lost because it has wandered away on its own. It is in grave danger and does not find its way back on its own. The coin is incapable of searching for its owner, the owner must search for it. The parallel is that it is man that has wandered away from God and is in great danger but he is not interested and is incapable of finding his Creator on his own. It is God that must search for man, and in His graciousness, He does. After he sinned, Adam purposefully hid from God. It was God that searched out and found Adam. The same is true for all mankind. Going back to Psalm 14 and its quote in Romans 3, there are none that do good and none that seek after God on their own. It is God that takes action to find and rescue us as a demonstration of His love and grace.
The Parable of Two Sons – Luke 15:11-31
The next parable is much longer and much more pointed. Since I do not have enough time left this morning to cover this in as much detail as I would like, I am only going to briefly go over each section of it and how it fits the theme of this chapter. I will go over it in greater detail next week so that it is better understood, and I will also use it to point out some basic principles about dealing with sons and daughters that stray from the paths of righteousness.
This passage is often called the parable of the prodigal son, but it is actually a parable about a father and his two sons for it begins in verse 11, 11 And He said, “A man had two sons.” It is given in two sections and both are important.
The Prodigal Son – Luke 15:11-24
12 “The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ So he divided his wealth between them.” This was very unusual, but within the realm of possibility and it gives insight into the character of both the selfish son and very generous father. The younger son audaciously demands his share of what would eventually be his in his father’s estate. Amazingly, the father yields to his son’s selfish demand. According to Deuteronomy 21:17, the older son would have received title to two thirds though the father would have continued to receive the income from it until his death. The younger son received title to one third of the estate.
13 “And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living.” The younger son was given title to what he received from his father that enabled him to liquidate the assets for money or other form of transportable wealth. Animals could have been sold and any land leased out for the years remaining until Jubilee (Leviticus 25). He then took all of his wealth and traveled to a distant country were he “wasted his possessions with prodigal living” (NKJV). The word (skorpivzw / skorpidzō ) means to spend foolishly and to no purpose. He squandered it, and specifically he wasted it on living that was loose, reckless, prodigal (NKJV). The word (ajswvtwV / asōtōs) pertains to senseless, reckless behavior. He lived without thinking or being concerned about the consequences.
14 “Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished. 15 “So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 “And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him.
As soon as his money ran out, he discovered the truth of Proverbs 19:4, 4 “Wealth adds many friends, But a poor man is separated from his friend.” His troubles were quickly compounded when a famine came upon the country he was living. He became destitute lacking basic necessities of life. It was so bad that he joined himself to a farmer. The word here (kollavw / kollaō ) means to be attached to, glued to, not “hired” as in employed which is a different word. The idea is that he would not leave the farmer alone, so the farmer let him feed the pigs, a job that would have been detestable to any Jew since pigs are unclean, but this man was desperate. He was feeding the pigs carob pods which are hardly edible to humans, but they started to look appetizing to him.
17 “But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! 18 ‘I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.” ’
Experience is the teacher of those who are stubborn and refuse to learn wisdom from instruction. This man’s situation became so bad that he finally “came to himself” and finally recognized his foolishness. His father’s hired servants were better off than he was, so he resolved to return home and humbly confess his sins and ask to be such a hired servant. Significantly, he recognizes that his sin is first against heaven. He had failed to keep God’s commandments
20 “So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.” Despite this son’s foolishness, the father still loved him and had been watching for him. He was excited to see him again.
21 “And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’” The son begins his confession, but does not finish before the father acts.
22 “But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; 23 and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24 for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.”
This is a story that illustrates the rejoicing in heaven when a sinner repents. We foolishly squander what God generously gives to us, but it is not until things get bad enough that we recognize our foolishness and are humbled enough to return to the Father knowing we deserve nothing. Our God, though grieved by our rebellion, still loves us and has been waiting for our return willing to bear the costs himself. He rejoices when what was dead has come back to life, and what was lost has been found. Repentance is reason to celebrate.
Jesus’ point is simple. If a shepherd rejoices over finding a lost sheep, and a woman rejoices over finding a lost coin, how much more does a father rejoice in the return of a lost son? It is cause for everyone to celebrate. So it is that there is celebration in heaven when a sinner repents for what was dead has come to life, what was lost has been found.
The Self-Righteous Son – Luke 15:25-32
25 “Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 “And he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things could be. 27 “And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has received him back safe and sound.’ “ The older son had been out in field and was unaware of what had happened. He hears the sounds of celebration before he gets to the house and asks a servant what was happening. But this was not news he wanted to hear.
28 “But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him. 29 “But he answered and said to his father, ‘Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends; 30 but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.’”
This news released a lot of pent up anger in the older son. Not only was he unwilling to join the celebration, but when his father came out to plead with him to join them, he unleashed his resentment in anger against the father, and it is ugly. This son is self-righteous as well as selfish. He claims to have been the perfect son who always obeyed his father. An obviously false claim, though he was also obviously much more obedient than his younger brother. He accuses his father of being stingy and not only withholding from him but also enabling his younger brother to pursue immorality. He resents his younger brother. He resents his father. He resents the celebration. The father’s response demonstrates his patience, mercy and graciousness.
31 “And he said to him, ‘Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 ‘But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.’ “
There are many ways the father could have responded after being treated so rudely, but he chooses to first reassure his older son that there is no threat to his inheritance. All that the father owns belongs to him. He next points out the reason for the celebration. The wayward younger son that had been considered lost and dead to them has been found and returned to life. Repentance is a wonderful reason to celebrate.
Jesus does not complete the end of this story for left unsaid is the final response of the older brother. Does he listen to his father and come join the celebration? Or does he refuse and continue to harbor his resentment? The listener would supply his own ending reflective of his own heart.
Remember that Jesus is specifically telling these parables to the Pharisees and scribes. The point of each parable is that when a sinner repents, the proper response is to celebrate for that is what is occurring in heaven. The end of the last parable leaves the question of what they would do open. Would they celebrate as do the angels before God? Or would they continue in their self-righteousness? They grumbled against Jesus for being a friend of sinners. Would they resent God for granting forgiveness to the repentant?
The application to us is still just as pointed. How would you want the story of the older son to end? The answer will reflect your own heart. May each of us be as forgiving as the father and learn to celebrate when a sinner repents.
Sermon Notes – 11/26/2017
Rejoicing Over the Repentant – Luke 15:1-32
Jesus is in Galilee teaching in the villages as He heads _________ to Jerusalem
Jesus’ teaching was often ___________ and offensive to those He was correcting
The Setting – Luke 15:1-3
For various reasons, tax gatherers and sinners were ____________ to hear Jesus teach
The Pharisees and scribes were grumbling that Jesus was _________ toward those they despised
Jewish culture was strongly set against associating with those considered ____________ (Acts 10:28)
Jesus tells parables where are real to life stories with a ___________ lesson. They are not allegory
Jesus is specifically telling this parables to __________and scribes who resent His friendliness with sinners
The Parable of the Lost Sheep – Luke 15:4-7
They would have understood the story, but not related to it since they considered shepherds of _____position
Sheep are quite _____________ and need a shepherd to survive
Leaving the care of the sheep to others, the shepherd __________for the lost one and rejoices upon finding it
There is more joy in heaven over a sinner that __________than over the righteous that do not need to repent
The Pharisees thought God rejoiced over the _________of sinners – contrary to Ezekiel 18:21-23, 32; 33:11
There are no righteous, so ___need to repent (Isaiah 53:6; 64:6). There is no rejoicing over the self-righteous
Repentance is a change of mind resulting in a change of ____________: from sin to righteousness
Repentance is used as a _____________for salvation
The Parable of the Lost Coin – Luke 15:8-10
They would have understood the story, but not related to it since they considered women ___________them
A coin cannot find its owner, so the owner must look for it – and she makes _______search until she finds it
There is joy before the angels of God when even just _________ sinner repents
Just as there is joy in finding what has been lost, so there is joy in heaven over a sinner that __________
The Parable of Two Sons – Luke 15:11-31
This parable is about a man and his _________ sons and is given in two sections
The Prodigal Son – Luke 15:11-24
vs. 12, an unusual, but possible situation of a son demanding his inheritance _____and the father granting it
vs. 13, the son liquidates his wealth, travels to a foreign land and _____________it all with prodigal living
vs. 14-16, impoverished, he is so ____________he feeds swine with their food looking appetizing to him
vs. 17-19, he finally recognizes his foolishness, ________himself and determines to go home to be a servant
vs. 20, the father had been looking for his return and ________to meet his son
vs. 21-23, the son begins his ____________, but the father acts before he is done and there is a celebration
When what is lost is found, what is dead is returned to _____, – a sinner repents – there is reason to celebrate
The Self-Righteous Son – Luke 15:25-32
vs. 25-27, the older son had been in the __________ and so did not know what had happened
vs. 28-30, the older brother is __________ making false claims and accusations against his father
vs. 31-32, the father graciously ___________ his son and points out the necessity of the celebration
Jesus _________________ give a conclusion to this story
Jesus tells these parables specifically to the Pharisees & scribes
to _______their attitude with that of heaven
How you want the story to end will ____________ your own heart
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Count how many times “repent” is referenced. 2) Discuss with your parents the meaning of repentance and why it causes there to be such joy in heaven.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. As Luke 15 begins, where is Jesus and what has happened within the previous week? Why would tax-gatherers and sinners want to hear Jesus teach? Why did the Pharisees and scribes despise them? Why were they grumbling against Jesus. What is a parable? Why is important to note that Jesus is specifically telling these parables to the Pharisees? Why was it important for a shepherd to find a lost sheep? What dangers did the sheep face? Why would he have more joy about finding the lost sheep than the 99 that had not wandered away? How does this relate to there being joy in heaven over a sinner that repents? According to Ezekiel 18:21-23, 32; 33:11, what is God’s desire toward the wicked? Are there any righteous people that do not need to repent? What is the point of Jesus comparison between one repentant sinner and 99 righteous people that do not need to repent? What is repentance? Why can it be used as a synonym for salvation? Can a change of mind without a change of direction be true repentance? Explain. Why would a woman go to so much trouble to find a lost coin? What is her reaction when she finds it? Why is there joy before the angels when a sinner repents? Who seeks whom in salvation? Why is it better to call this the parable of the two sons instead of the parable of the prodigal son? What was the character of the prodigal son? What was the character of his father toward him? What finally caused the younger son to “come to himself”? What was his reaction when he finally recognized his foolishness? What is the father’s reaction to seeing his son in the distance? Why does he react this way? What is the common theme and lesson of the parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the first part of the parable of the two sons? What was the reaction of the older son when he heard about the reason for the celebration? What false claims and accusations did he make? What was the father’s reaction to him? Why does Jesus leave the end of the story untold? What was the point of this part of the parable to the Pharisees and scribes who heard it? How would you end the story? What does that reveal about your own heart?
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