Last week we looked at Luke 15. Jesus gives three stories focusing on lost people, a rescuer and a party. The redemption concepts presented by Luke tug at the heart. It makes one thankful for the grace Jesus provides.
While these redemption stories are good for the heart, one wonders if there is any application. Maybe the Bible is a great redemptive story but doesn’t really play out in everyday life. Application is as important as theological understanding. Actually it is my opinion that theology without application is knowledge. Jesus isn’t worried about how much we know. He is concerned about how we live.
The more I think about Luke 15 I see more than meets the eye. We like to talk about being like Jesus. Remember the days of “WWJD.” While we probably don’t really know what Jesus would do since he is often very unpredictable during his 3 years of ministry the idea is to be like Jesus. Be forgiving. Be a healer. Bring peace. Help the poor. Obey the 10 commandments. Be nice. You get the idea.
All those Jesus likeisms (I love making up words) are real. But, do they actually reveal Christ. I think they could reveal all sorts of good people. Jesus is so much more than a good person. The key element is grace. A friend recently said “All we really have to offer is grace.”
As Jesus speaks in Luke 15 imagine you are the listener. He is talking about being lost. First of all grace allows people to get lost. There is an understanding that we aren’t going to get it right. There is a hymn that reads “prone to wander, Lord I know it. Prone to leave the God I love.” Let’s put that in context of Luke 15. Prone to get lost, wander and rebel. Prone to hide, forget and choose my own way instead of the God I say I love. That is man. That is us.
Grace calls for action. There is someone that after they recognize that someone is lost they go find them. A widow finds the coin. A shepherd goes to bring back the lamb. The Father looks for the day he can welcome home his son. Grace has someone looking out for us. Sure Jesus does. But, to be like Christ is to be a rescuer. What? Are you serious? Yes, I am.
Grace in the pattern of Jesus is to lay our lives down for the sake of another. The widow didn’t relish her 9 coins. She worked hard to clean the house to find the one. The shepherd didn’t write the lost lamb off as being ADD or inattentive or without discipline. No, he took the journey to find his lamb. There is an amazing fact about the Prodigal Father in Luke 15. He let his son go. He rested in his love being more persuasive than the love of the world. Think about such love and grace. He let his son go without argument since he knew love and grace wins the day.
Can we say that? Do we live that way? We like to think this is a world of second chances. It isn’t. Reputations, judgments, one really bad day haunt us for life. Labels are hung around our neck even by those who call us “friend..”
The party at the end of each story reveals the pleasure and joy redemption provides for Jesus. Do we have that kind of joy when redemption wins the day? I meet to many sour believers. We forgot how to party. At the very end of Luke 15 there is a young man who forgot how to party. He probably has his eyes on money and things of this world instead of the soul of his brother.
Things of the world have the habit of taking the party out of us. It is a sign grace and love have been the forgotten active likeness of Jesus. When your wife is having a really bad day do you consider her lost? When your husband comes home like a bear do you see him as a man with his head down trying to survive another day (lamb)? When your kids are in trouble and the policeman at the door has your blood pressure up do you consider him as a prodigal or as a problem? Jesus revealed that his way…the likeness of Christ indeed was that love and grace were to win the day. There is shame on those who reject such grace. There is a greater shame on those who don’t live it.