The Incredible Value of Biblical Context: Three Parables Examined
While every subject within the scriptures that we study spans the entire bible, and there's much to gain in searching out every single matter, certain chapters speak volumes when read completely in context.
One chapter that is a great example of this is Luke ch. 15.
The chapter goes into detail on a single subject through parables, and offers three accounts that completely tie together. We often hear others talk about each one of these individual parables. However, the three parables examined together offers amazing insight.
Jesus said that He would send the Spirit of Truth, who would lead us into all truth. Understanding the gravity of being able to prayerfully inquire God for understanding in any matter takes a person beyond simply reading the bible, to being filled with a passion, and a hunger to continue in the word. Once a person awakes to the realization that God truly does instruct us, there is absolutely no way a person can let his or her bible sit on a shelf collecting dust.
Will you join me in examining this single chapter and these three parables in context?
1. Parable of the Lost Sheep
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. Luke 15:4-6
In the above parable, Jesus speaks of the implications of losing one sheep. He said that when one lamb is lost, the shepherd goes after it and when he finds it and returns home, he calls his friends and neighbors and says, "Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost."
Most of the time when we hear this parable the account ends here. However, the final verse of this parable is often overlooked.
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. Luke 15:7
Indeed, Jesus will go after one lost sheep. He said that when it is found, there is even joy in heaven over one sinner that repents, more than all the others who needed no repentance.
There are three points to consider in this parable.
1. A sheep was lost
2. The sheep was found
3. The sheep repented.
Let's continue to the next parable in this chapter as all three points contained in the first parable are found there as well.
Parable of the lost Coin
The second parable in Luke ch. 15.
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. Luke 15:8-9
In the above parable a woman had ten pieces of silver, one was lost. The parable says that the woman would light a candle and search diligently until she finds the coin. When she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together saying, "rejoice with me for I have found the piece which I lost."
The final verse of this parable says:
Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth. Luke 15:10
Again the the elements present within this parable are:
- Lost coin
- The coin was found
A Returning Son
The Prodigal Son
This parable, contained in the same chapter as the previous two goes more in-depth than the others. It covers not only a lost son, but also the circumstances involved with the son's choices. It also includes in-depth, the son's decision to return home to his father's house. Like the first two parables, the end result was a great celebration.
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. Luke 15:11-13
The youngest of two sons, decided that he wanted his inheritance and his father "divided unto them his living." A few days later the younger son took his journey into a far country, and wasted all of his inheritance 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. Luke 15:14
Here is this young man who had taken his entire inheritance and wasted it. He was broke, and to top it off, a famine arose in the land. He had no choice but to join himself to a citizen of that country; and the citizen sent him into his fields to feed his swine. This young man was hungry, and he would have eaten the husks that the swine ate, yet no man gave him anything.
That had to be a very difficult lesson. This young man came from a home where all his needs were provided for. It seemed that his father did not withhold any request from him. He never seemed to consider that in his father's house there was a level of care for him that was far different than the world could offer. The world has little interest in the well being of anyone. He learned very quickly that in this world most tend to look out for themselves, and rarely consider others, especially those in who are in need.
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! Luke 15:17
The above verse makes an interesting statement. It says, "when he came to himself," as though, after wasting all of his inheritance, and ending up in a place where he would eat the food of swine, he suddenly realized the gravity of his own choices. When this realization hit him, he said:
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. Luke 15:18-19
Before returning home, the prodigal son considered that the servants in his father's house were well fed, while he was now eating the food of swine. It had to be very difficult for this young man to even consider returning home empty handed and broken. Still, he humbled himself and thought about the words that he would say to his father. "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee, I am not worthy to be called your son. Make me as one of your hired servants."
He wasn't even certain about how his father would receive him upon his return:
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. Luke 15:20
What great love his father had for him. As the prodigal son was still a great way off, his father saw him returning. His father, being filled with compassion ran to him, and embraced and kissed him.
The prodigal son had previously worked out what he would say to his father, and he spoke the words that he had rehearsed before he made his journey back home.
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. Luke 15:21
Immediately this father forgave his son and treated him as though he had not left and wasted his inheritance. Like the Parable of the Lost Sheep, and the Parable of the Lost Coin, the father wanted to celebrate the return of his son.
Luke 15:22 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: Luke 15:23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:
The father of this young man then made a very clear statement about why there was so much joy at his son's return.
For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. Luke 15:24
Rather than making a general statement like, "My son has returned home, I missed him," he said that his "son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found."
This portion of the parable at this point, has come to the same conclusions as the first two.
- His son was lost
- His son was found (returned)
- His son repented
This parable goes on to describe the older brother as being unhappy about his brother's celebrated return.
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. Luke 15:25-27
The older brother was certainly not happy that his father would hold such a great celebration for his brother who made such poor choices, while he himself had remained faithful in his father's house.
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. Luke 15:29-30
The older son did not seem to understand the serious implications of his brothers poor choices, and the "death," sentence that was in him. Earlier in the account, his father had said, "this son of mine was dead, and now he is alive, he was lost but now he has been found."
So his father spelled it out for him even repeating the words that he previously said:
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. Luke 15:31
God has very real standards for his children, and like most dads, even in this earth, God wants the very best for each of us. When we make a choice to go our own way and live our lives in a manner that goes against all that is good and right, when we "come to ourselves," as the prodigal son did, there is a level of humility realized. This is when the reality sinks in that our safety, our security, and even our well-being, is always present within the dwelling place of our Father in Heaven. This is why it is so important that we abide in Christ Jesus.
The word "repent," from Luke 15:7 means:
1. To change one's mind, i.e. to repent
2. To change one's mind for better, heartily to amend with abhorrence of one's past sins.
I have heard people take the meaning of the word "repentance," lightly, saying, "that word just means, "to change one's mind." The reality is, repentance goes much deeper than simply changing our minds. Repentance is not the same as ordering a salad, and then changing our minds and asking for soup instead.
As we see from the parable, there was a humility involved. The son considered his ways and he wanted to confess his sin and his shortcomings to his father.
There is an acknowledgement that takes place when true repentance happens.
David spoke of this:
I acknowledge my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah. Psalms 32:5
This is key to repentance and is part of a deep realization of the choices that led us into a place of eating the food of swine.
Repentance always involves confession of our sins. If we cannot confess our sins then we simply haven't come to the place of humility that brings forth true confession.
Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:16
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
Unless we can admit our shortcoming, there can be no changes, and the sin that so easily entangled and snared us will not be removed. Unless we come to a point where we acknowledge our own actions and see the results produced by our own ways, there can be no real "change of mind." Changes in us only happen through our acknowledgement as we confess our sins to our Father in heaven in complete sincerity. And then He cleanses us.
The changes that take place through our sincere confession and the cleansing forgiveness of God is an absolute necessity if our desire is to abide in Christ.
God shall hear, and afflict them, even he that abideth of old. Selah. Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God. Psalms 55:19
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9
Repentance is all part of the transformation in us, that the Apostle Paul wrote about:
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Romans 12:1-2
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23
I have heard many say that our all our sins, "past, present and future," are forgiven upon accepting Christ into our hearts.
I have found no verses that say that all future sins are automatically forgiven. There are simply no scriptures that say this. I have found passages that speak of a "willful ignorance,"
Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Romans 1:21
Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Ephesians 4:18
In fact, I have found that throughout the Bible repentance has been required for sin on every occasion where anyone fell short. God certainly is patient. However, the ultimate goal is to change us through and through. We cannot expect that all of the things that kept us entangled in the sin that was part of our lives before turning to Christ just suddenly vanishes. We cannot continue on as we were before we accepted Jesus into our hearts. Paul said that no sin will enter into the Kingdom of God, and spoke in depth about how we grow in Christ, and are changed as we press on. As we continue in Christ and mature in His will, confession is unavoidable. As we mature in Him, and we begin to see our own errors, there is always a confession that takes place with those who are His.
This forgiveness is like an inheritance. God's mercy toward us is a free gift. We did not do anything to earn it, but by His mercy and His grace, He bestowed his inheritance on us that even makes us sons and daughters of the living God.
We should strive not to live our lives in Christ by not wasting our inheritances. However, when we do fall short and step out of our Father's house When we partake in the ways of this world, in order to return and be changed, the most sincere of repentance is required.
God is always watching for those who have walked away from Him. He doesn't wish that any should perish but that all should come to the knowledge of the truth. When any return to Him, like the prodigal son returning to his father's house, the Lord see's us coming a long ways off, and He runs to us, and embraces us and welcomes us back into His home.
Sin that is sincerely repented of is cleansed. In order to grow in the understanding of God's will for us, we are required to take heed according to God's word.
Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. Psalms 119:9
© 2017 Betty A F