What to expect
What is a parable? A parable is simply a story with a moral or spiritual lesson. Jesus used parables a lot in his teachings and Luke has diligently recorded them. We’ve actually encountered a parable already – back in Luke 7:36-50 when we read about Simon inviting Jesus over for dinner and an uninvited woman poured perfume on Jesus’ feet, Jesus told a story to Simon. The story Jesus told was a parable! Can you recall the parable?
In this passage, Luke’s eyewitness account has Jesus telling three parables. What’s the common theme of all three parables?
The parable of the lost sheep
Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering round to hear Jesus. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, ‘This man welcomes sinners, and eats with them.’
3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 ‘Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbours together and says, “Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.” 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who do not need to repent.
The parable of the lost coin
8 ‘Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbours together and says, “Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.” 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.’
The parable of the lost son
11 Jesus continued: ‘There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, “Father, give me my share of the estate.” So he divided his property between them.
13 ‘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. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
17 ‘When he came to his senses, he said, “How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.” 20 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 round him and kissed him.
21 ‘The son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.”
22 ‘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. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” So they began to celebrate.