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Publicans and sinners. Matthew 9:10 .
Murmured ; found fault with him for associating with vicious persons, or permitting them to approach him. He therefore spoke three parables, showing that God receives and rejoices over sinners who return to him, however wicked they have been; and that it was highly proper that the Saviour of sinners should do the same. Murmuring when sinners come to Christ, and uneasiness at his reception of them, are evidences of a selfish, wicked spirit, which, without a great change, can never join in the employment or partake of the bliss of heaven.
He spake this parable ; the three parables of this chapter contain each a vindication of the Saviour’s conduct in receiving publicans and sinners. The point of them all is, that not what is safe, but what is lost, is the just occasion of labor in finding and joy upon recovery. We are not to infer from verse Luk 15:7 that there are any who were never lost and never need repentance. The Saviour simply reasons with the Pharisees upon common principles, as much as to say, If, as you think, you are safe within God’s fold, why blame me for my solicitude to find and save the lost?
The lost sheep. Matthew 18:11-14 .
Joy shall be in heaven ; as there is joy in heaven over the repentance of sinners, it was proper that Christ should associate with them, for the purpose of promoting their repentance.
Ninety and nine just persons ; there is more joy in heaven over one who repents and turns to God, than over many who have never sinned and need no repentance, or who, having sinned, think that they need none.
This parable is another illustration of the same truth.
As God, angels, and all holy beings rejoice at the repentance of sinners, all who repent, and all who are successful in leading others to repent, are increasing the happiness of heaven.
The younger ; he represents openly wicked persons, such as the "publicans and sinners"; as the elder son does the Pharisees, "who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others." His living ; literally, the living, that is, the estate in his hands. He paid over to the younger son his portion, but reserved in his own hands the elder son’s portion. Wicked men wish to have their concerns in their own hands. They would rather choose and direct their course, than have God do it for them. This is setting up their wisdom and goodness above his, and will end in sad disappointment.
To feed swine ; this was considered a very degrading employment, and to a Jew was especially odious. Leviticus 11:7 ; Deuteronomy 14:8 .
Husks ; large pods growing on the carob-tree. They have a sweetish pulp, and small seeds like beans. Swine are fed on them, and poor people sometimes eat them.
Came to himself ; came to have just views of things. Men must feel that they are lost, before they will be found; and unless they believe that away from God they will perish, they will never return to him. Nor, if they do believe this, will they ever return to him till they steadfastly resolve to do it.
Against heaven ; against God as well as against his father.
Ran and fell on his neck ; this represents the readiness with which God receives returning sinners. To be saved, men must not only resolve, but they must return to God; taking all the blame and shame of their departure to themselves, and ascribing righteousness to him, they must surrender all their interests for time and eternity to his care, guidance, and disposal.
When in humility and penitence men return to God, trusting in Jesus Christ for what they need he rejoices to receive them with exceeding great joy; and notwithstanding all their transgressions, he pardons them freely, and bestows upon them the blessings of his salvation.
Be merry ; be joyful and happy; literally, eating, let us rejoice.
My son was dead-lost ; he was dead to excellence and to happiness and dead as to being the means of either to his father’s house. He was lost to goodness, to duty, and to heaven.
Alive-found ; he has returned with right feelings to his father and friends, and is a source of rich enjoyment to himself and them. Who, not lost to goodness, would not be partaker of their joy?
His elder son ; he represents the scribes and Pharisees, who found fault with Jesus for receiving and kindly treating sinners who came to him.
Music and dancing ; expressions of joy.
This thy son ; an expression of scorn and pride. He refuses to say. This my brother.
Devoured thy living ; squandered the property assigned to him.
Thou art ever with me ; so that thou hast the full enjoyment of the portion of the estate reserved for thee.
All that I have is thine ; the younger son having received his portion of the estate, what remained would be now enjoyed by the other son, and fall to him when the father had done with it.
It was meet ; suitable, proper. Had the elder son felt right, he would have thought so; and instead of murmuring, would have partaken of the joy. So with the scribes and Pharisees: had they felt right, instead of murmuring at Christ for receiving penitent sinners, they would have rejoiced with him and all the good on earth and in heaven, with exceeding joy.
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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Luke 15". "Family Bible New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25