Charmain Hibberd
by Charmain Hibberd

Marketing Assistant (Writer), CBN Europe

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There is a trifecta of parables in Luke 15 that each depict something that is lost. Each parable tells the tale of something of great value that has been misplaced or gone astray and is restored or returned to its original home. There is much we can learn from these parables, especially as we enter a new year.  

The Lost Sheep 

Jesus tells the story of a man who has lost one of his hundred flock of sheep. Jesus asks the gathered crowd: 

“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do?” (Luke 15v3) 

Historically, sheep were more than just possessions to farmers, they were cared for animals of great value. If one went missing, it was more devastating perhaps than these days and the farmer would not hesitate to leave the 99 present sheep to go after the lost one.  

I imagine the man agonising over the lost sheep, worrying about if it had encountered another dangerous animal and if any harm had come to it. These are the kinds of thoughts that come to someone who cares deeply for what they have lost.  

When the sheep is found, the 99 remaining have stayed where they are and not strayed, and the man is overjoyed!  

Jesus reminds us that, “There is more joy in Heaven over one lost sinner who repents and turns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and havenstrayed away!” (Luke 15v7) 

The Lost Coin 

Similarly, there is a woman who has lost one of her 10 silver coins. She searches frantically, turning her home upside-down until she finds it. Then, upon finding it, alerts her neighbours to rejoice with her – the lost coin has been found! 

The value of the coin dictates the level of panic the woman felt at having lost it.  

It is the same with our Father in Heaven. 

He values us so much that when we are lost, He cannot bear it and seeks us out, pursues us until we are restored to Him. 

He values us so much that when we are lost, He cannot bear it and seeks us out, pursues us until we are restored to Him. 

The Lost Son 

The longest and perhaps moat pertinent of the three parables in Luke 15 is the parable of the lost son.  

A son calls his father to him and demands that his share of the estate be given to him. 

We have barely even begun this parable and we get a sense of the father’s heart. To ask for ones share of your parents estate is as good as wishing them dead. Inheritance is not normally distributed until after death and so this insensitive request must have hurt the father deeply.  

Nevertheless, he humbly obliges and gives the son his share of the estate.  

Not too long after, the son takes his wealth and leaves his father’s house, squandering his gains as he goes on wild living.  

Soon, the son runs out of money and a famine hits the land. He manages to secure himself some work as a hired help in the pig pen but is so hungry that he longs to eat the pods that the pigs are fed. 

He rationalises that his father’s hired helpers eat and live well under his father’s care so he will return to his father, with a pre-rehearsed speech of apology, and ask to be received as a hired help in his father’s house. 

He comes to his senses, the Bible says. 

As he heads home, whilst he is still a long way off, his father sees him and runs to him, kissing him and hugging him. As the son begins his speech, the father silences him.  

Calling to his hired helpers, the father orders them to slaughter the fattened calf and prepare a feast, his son is home! 

Sadly, the story does not end there. 

We know that the older son – the brother of the prodigal – was less than happy to see the reception his irresponsible brother received. He had been out working in the field and had not once put a foot wrong…  

“Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours.  We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!” (Luke 15v31-32) 

“Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours.  We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!” (Luke 15v31-32) 

The Father’s Heart 

And so, the parables of the lost sheep, coin and son conclude. 

Isn’t it interesting that the religious leaders of the day – the teachers and Pharisees – were incensed that known sinners, tax collectors and the like were gathering to listen to Jesus speak. Surely, they would want these people to hear Jesus’ teaching and be reformed? 

No, they were likely comfortable with their version of religion and had become calloused to the possibility that people can change.  

The older brother in the final parable sounds a bit like this don’t you think? Whilst we can sympathise that he has been working tirelessly all the time that his brother was off having the time of his life, hopefully we relate more with the father in that we are glad to see our lost brothers and sisters home again, safely. 

I raise these parables, not just to retell them in my own paraphrase and remind us of their power, but to encourage the father’s heart in all of us. 

As we enter into a new year and a fresh start, many may come home to the house of God and to God Himself.  

They may have ‘come to their senses’ over the Christmas period and realised that a whole new year without the Father is too much for them to bear. 

Let’s be sensitive to the courage it takes to do this and welcome our family home with open arms and open hearts. 

And whenever we feel ourselves taking on the attitude of the older brother or the religious leaders, let’s remember once again the words of Jesus: 

“Healthy people don’t need a doctor – sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” (Mark 2v17 NLT) 

Remember that, no matter what has happened, you can always come home.
Remember that, no matter what has happened, you can always come home.

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