The Gospel According to St Luke: Luke Chapter Fifteen: Read here:
Prodigal Son, Rembrandt
The Publicans and Sinners were More Righteous than the Pharisees and Scribes: Luke 15:12:
Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him.
And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying,
“This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.”
Isn’t it interesting that the publicans and sinners drew near to Jesus because they wanted to hear Him; they were willing to listen and to transform their lives for the better? But the Pharisees and Scribes just want to observe what was happening in order to pinpoint some fault.
Jesus knew this. He does know the condition and the intent of our hearts. But, like always, He was willing to teach and invite all to come unto Him.
The Parable of the Lost Sheep: Luke 15: 3-7:
And he spake this parable unto them, saying,
“What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them,
‘Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.’
“I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.”
Clearly we all need repentance, but the Pharisees and scribes would not recognize that they were lost. The publicans and sinners were ready to recognize Jesus’s grace, and were therefore ready to receive it.
The Parable of the Lost Coin: Luke 15:8-10:
“Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it. And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying,
‘Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost.’
“Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.”
The angels are cheering for us! When we repent and choose to follow Jesus. When we allow His goodness and grace to find us, they rejoice.
The Parable of the Prodigal Son: Luke 15:11-32:
And he said,
“A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father,
‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me.’
“And he divided unto them his living.
“And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.
“And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.
“And when he came to himself, he said,
‘How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him,
‘Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.’
“And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
“And the son said unto him,
‘Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.’
“But the father said to his servants,
‘Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.’
“Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing. And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant.
“And he said unto him,
‘Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.’
“And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and entreated him.
“And he answering said to his father,
‘Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.’
“And he said unto him,
‘Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.
‘It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.’”
This was not a time for judgment, but a time to welcome home a son; a time to initiate the repentance and healing process; a time for a second chance, or maybe a third or fourth. And so this wise father welcomed home his son.
It was a blessing to the whole family that the prodigal son came to himself. But it doesn’t seem amiss to most of us that the older son would feel annoyed that his father gave so much to his disobedient brother. Are we sometimes like the scribes and Pharisees when we see others being treated so well by the servants of the Lord? Don’t we sometimes judge that they should get what they deserve as a result of their own choices? Are these parables directed to the scribe and Pharisee within each of us?
While the Savior’s message has to do with our eternal welfare and finding joy over every sinner who repents and returns to Him, I can’t help but see a corollary with current affairs between those who may be prideful because of their blessings and those who may be humble because of their need.
When we pay our Fast Offerings, we can witness the same thing happening many times. We can all fall upon hard times, but are we quick to judge the reasons for the hard times others face? Do we say that they brought upon themselves their own predicament so their judgments are just? Are we so perfect that we do not require any grace or goodwill from others?
King Bejamin’s words:
“Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—
“But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.
“For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind” (Mosiah 4:17-19)?
We see our Fast Offerings at work in the Bishop’s Storehouse. Here the best is given to those who are in need of being lifted up. It is a part of finding those who are lost and giving them hope and courage to be found, so that they can regain their footing, learn to work like the righteous son, and give to others in return. Righteous children must learn to give and forgive like the wise and righteous Father.
If we are too concerned over losing an inheritance that we think we own, we may have already lost it.