Monday, March 7

Luke 15:11-32
“There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

“Not long after that the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that county, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against you, I am no longer worthy to be called your son make me like one of your hired men.’ So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

“Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look, all these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours, who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!”

“ ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

“Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale,
a tale of a fateful trip,
that started from this tropic port
aboard this tiny ship.

The mate was a mighty sailing man,
the skipper brave and sure.
Five passengers set sail that day
for a three hour tour, a three hour tour.

The weather started getting rough,
the tiny ship was tossed.
If not for the courage of the fearless crew,
the Minnow would be lost, the Minnow would be lost.”

If you grew up, more or less, in the 70’s – chances are you recognize – and can hear in your head – the theme song to “Gilligan’s Island,” a goofy T.V. sitcom about 7 castaways lost on a desert island.

Or maybe you were a bigger fan of “Lost in Space” – a futuristic show about a family stranded somewhere in outer space and can still hear the robot shouting “Danger, Will Robinson, danger!”

More recently, many of you probably watched the popular series, “Lost”, that tells the (almost endlessly interesting and endlessly frustrating) story of a group of people who crashed onto a mysterious island and became lost in both space and time.

These shows, and our fascination with them, reveal two things. First, there are all kinds of ways to get lost; and second, getting lost can seem fun and exciting until we actually get, well, lost!

In Luke 15 Jesus tells three “lost” stories; a story about a lost sheep; a story about a lost coin; and finally, this story about a lost son (actually TWO lost sons). These stories are Jesus’ way of teaching us that there are lots of ways to be spiritually lost. Most of them start quite unintentionally – after all, no one intentionally tries to get lost, rather, we all THINK we know where we are going! Yet, even though we don’t intend to get lost (the younger brother), and may not even know we are lost (the older brother) – lost we are.

Jesus is also teaching us that someone is looking for us. There is a shepherd trudging through the wilderness looking for one lost sheep. There is a woman sweeping every inch of her home looking for just one lost coin. And there is a father waiting and watching – his eyes focused on where the road meets the horizon – looking for a figure he will recognize as his son – coming home. This same father waits, too, for his other son – the one standing in the back yard with his arms folded and back turned – refusing to join the celebration inside.

All these images, of course, reveal to us the heart of the God who is fierce and relentless in his love for each one of us. He pursues us like a shepherd looking for his lost sheep; like a woman looking for a lost coin, like a father looking for a wayward son, or, to use an analogy many of us have experienced, like a parent looking for a lost child in a mall – because we are of inestimable value to him. And he wants us to come home.

My guess is that, if you are reading this devotional, you have already come home. If so, thank God for loving you enough to come after you, to find you, and to rejoice over you! But it is possible that, while you are reading this devotional, you are also – at this moment – far from home. You sense that God is pursuing you – but maybe you fear that you have strayed too far – or that you’ll just end up disappointing him again. I think the younger brother in Jesus’ story may have felt that way too. I think he expected his father to be angry. I think he hoped – at best – to become a servant. Yet, his father threw his arms around him, kissed him, and said, “My son was lost and is found!” He feels the same way about you – so come on home!

Brian Coffey


Anonymous said...

My particular brand of lost-ness, I think, is that I am constantly making "resolutions" to be more on God's path daily, and then I stray away again (onto selfish pursuits or uses of time)- it's the "disappointing Him again" type of lostness. One good things about that, I'll say, comes from Pastor Jeff's sermon about sin: "God forgets our sins, but we shouldn't, because then we won't be able to fully comprehend GRACE".

Anonymous said...

We hear this same story again when Jesus is crucified between these two brothers, both lost, but only one who recognizes it, and admits it to the father:

Luke 23:
39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.[d]”

43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Just like the younger brother, he didn't demand to be fully restored. He just wanted to be remebered. Jesus gave him so much more.