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Tuesday, May 21st, 2024
the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
Luke 15

Concordant Commentary of the New TestamentConcordant NT Commentary

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Verses 1-12

34-35 Compare Mat_5:13 ; Mar_9:50 .

1 Compare Luk_7:34-35 ; Mat_9:10-13 .

2 Our Lord's liking for sinners led the proud, self-righteous Pharisees and scribes to utter a most precious truth, though they, indeed, did not intend it thus. "This man is receiving sinners . . .! " Far from denying the charge, He makes it the basis of a five-fold parable in which He emphasizes the vital fact that God is not concerned with the righteous, but with sinners. The term parable is used at the beginning and includes, not only that of the lost sheep, but also the lost coin, and the prodigal son, and the unjust steward, and the rich man and Lazarus. They are five different parts of one parable, which deals with the nation of Israel and the various classes in it. First we are shown the Saviour's attitude toward the lost in the story of the lost sheep. The following pair, concerning the lost coin and the prodigal son, are strikingly like the last two, concerning the unjust steward, and the rich man and Lazarus. Two of these stories have to do with money, and the story of the prodigal son is closely matched by that of the rich man. Like all the Lord's parables, these are not merely apt illustrations of divine truth, but pictorial parables of spiritual facts as they existed in the nation to which He was sent.

3 Our Lord was not sent to any but the straying sheep of the house of Israel ( Mat_15:24 ). He had no commission for any other nation and He never left the land of Israel to reach others. The hundred sheep, therefore, bring before us the nation of the covenant. The Lord is the good Shepherd, Who gives His soul for the sheep ( Joh_10:11 ). The ninety and nine are the selfrighteous majority of the nation, who, like the Pharisees and scribes, to whom He was speaking, thought they had no need of repentance. They were not safe within the shelter of the fold, but out in the wilderness, left without the protection of the Shepherd, and open to the attacks of the wild beasts. They merely thought themselves safe. But they did not stir His heart or call for His succor. A single silly sheep astray from the flock causes Him more suffering and more joy than all the rest. God could get little satisfaction out of Israel because of their self-righteousness. The tax gatherers and sinners heard Him gladly, and they alone responded to His love and mercy. He received sinners because no others would have Him or felt their need of Him. The hunt for a lost sheep in the wilds of Judea was a hazardous and dangerous task, and may well remind us of His suffering unto death on the cross. The descent into a deep and dark ravine infested with savage beasts, is a fit picture of His descent into the depths of Golgotha. The lost sheep gives us God's side. The lost coin gives us Israel's side. The nation is often seen under the figure of a woman. To this very day it is the custom among the women of the land to wear silver coins for a headdress. These are their most prized ornaments, and mean much more to them than the mere money value. Israel had been decked with ornaments by Jehovah, and it was one of these that was lost. And each sinner among them who repented had a foretaste of the day when the redemption money is found for Israel's ransom.

4 Compare Luk_19:10 ; Isa_53:6 ; 1Pe_2:25 .

11 In the parable of the two sons we have a portrait of the two classes in Israel to illustrate their moral distance from God. The prodigal was far from the father's house; the elder brother was far from his heart. So the Pharisees and scribes boast of a ceremonial nearness to Jehovah, but their hearts are far from Him. The tax collectors and sinners are outcasts, yet they know their plight and yearn for the compassionate mercy of God. The point in this portion of the fivefold parable lies in the contrast between the two sons. Natural religion, such as the self-righteous Pharisees and scribes possessed, prides itself on conduct such as characterized the elder son, which consists in doing right and living up to the law as best they could. But such deportment, even if sincere and true, gives no occasion for the father to reveal His affection. The prodigal is a composite picture of the sinner and the publican. His dissipation and profligacy set him forth as a sodden sinner, mired in immorality. His alliance with the citizen of a foreign country, his herding of the hogs and his desire to eat the diet of the unclean creatures, is a deft delineation of the traitorous tax collector, who joined with Rome in oppressing God's people. He had been far worse than a mere "prodigal". He recognizes himself as a sinner.

Verses 13-32

13 Compare Job_21:14-15 .

17 Compare Jer_31:18-20 .

17 The first desire of the prodigal and of all awakened sinners is to do something themselves to ameliorate their evil condition. "What must I do to be saved?" This is their constant cry, because they do not know the Father, and misjudge His love. So the prodigal proposes to plead for a place in his father's service. He rehearses his little speech, and his highest expectation is a place among the servants in his father's house. But how far is all this from the father's thoughts! He saw him afar off, and heard his confession, and ignored his plea. Instead of the menial place of servility he gives him the highest place of honor. The choicest robe and the daintiest viands all proclaim the delight of the father at receiving his son back again. There was feasting and merriment, which began, but has no end. So with the sinners and outcasts. The Lord frankly forgave them. They were not put on probation, or set to the task of redeeming their character by meritorious conduct and perseverance in rectitude. They were clothed in garments of salvation and satisfied with the sacrifice of God's providing. They joyed in the God of grace. The bliss of the kingdom, the exultant rejoicing of all creation in the consummation, will not be built upon obedience, but on the disobedience that led to destruction and death; yet rather on the love that saves the lost and gives life to the dead. Sin is a temporary necessity in God's great purpose to reveal Himself. It is the background which brings out the high lights of His grace. It is the foil which sets forth the depths of His affections. It was provided for before its entrance into the world, hence is not of man's choosing. It will be restrained in the eons of the eons and be entirely removed at the consummation.

18 Compare Isa_55:6-7 ; Hos_14:1-3 ; Psa_51:3-4 .

20 Compare Job_33:27-28 ; Psa_86:5 ; Psa_103:8-13 .

22 Compare Isa_61:10 ; Gen_41:42 .

28 Compare Act_22:21-22 ; Rom_10:19 ; 2Co_5:20 .

29 Compare Mat_19:20 ; Rom_3:20 ; Rom_3:27 ; Mal_3:14 .

31 Compare Rom_9:4-5 .

1 The parable of the unjust steward confines itself to the Pharisees and scribes, the stewards of Israel's wealth. They were dissipating His treasures and were fond of money and served their own greed for gain rather than ministering to the glory of God. They were prudent in the things of this life to the extent of jeopardizing their prospects in the eons to come.

8 Compare Joh_12:36 ; Eph_5:8 ; 1Th_5:5 .

9 Compare Mat_6:19-20 ; 1Ti_6:17-19 .

9 The emphatic I shows that there is a contrast intended between the lord of the unjust steward and Christ. This cannot be expressed in the indicative. Moreover, the Lord does not commend unrighteousness, and advise deceit. Besides, the sentiment immediately following is quite opposed to such double dealing. Faithfulness, not shrewdness, is the requisite for honors in the kingdom. Money or means of any kind are only trivial and temporary factors in the life of faith, unless we view them as tests with a view to the acquisition of the true riches. Those who are faithful stewards of material wealth, which is theirs only to use for a time, and not to possess forever, may expect a reward in kind in the kingdom. The Pharisees died rich, and will have no place in the glories of the Messianic reign. Christ died in the most abject poverty, yet He will be weighted with the wealth of all earth's highest glories. Even in this day of sovereign grace, present riches are too often a hindrance to future reward, when they may well be a means of preferment by their faithful and gracious dispensation. Neither the most conservative investment nor the most fortunate speculation will yield as sate or as profitable proceeds as a share in the concerns of God. It yields, not only temporary returns, but eternal dividends.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Luke 15". Concordant Commentary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/aek/luke-15.html. 1968.
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