By Ron Bartanen
Jesus told three parables, as recorded in Luke 15, in which have been referred to as the “parables of the lost”: the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son.
The parable of the lost sheep seems to portray the many who have lost direction in their lives, and are as the sheep who, apart from the care of the shepherd, are prone to being devoured by predators, typifying those apart from Christ, in peril from the evil forces in our world that would destroy their souls. The apostle Peter warned of such when he wrote of Satan who, as “a roaring lion” goes about “seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
The parable of the lost coin illustrates those who have lost their purpose in life. The lost coin was not fulfilling its purpose while hidden on the dirt floor, illustrating wayward man who is not fulfilling his purpose, being apart from God and mired in his sins.
The lost son parable appropriately describes those who have lost their identity as children of God. The “prodigal son” is lured by the enticements of the world to separate himself from his father, and departs to the “far country,” where he engages in “riotous living.” It is only when his life bottoms out, and he finds himself in the pigpen of life that he “came to himself,” resolving to return to his father.
As the “good Shepherd” (John 10:11), Jesus came to “seek and save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10), and bring us into His fold, the church. His sheep are they who “hear His voice” and “follow Him” (John 10:3-4).
The lost coin was recovered by the woman pictured as sweeping her floor, typifying the Spirit of God seeking us by the gospel of Christ, the “power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16). Our true purpose in life, which is to serve our God, is understood only when we are again in God’s hands.
The lost son was lost until he saw the vanity of a prodigal (wasteful) life apart from his loving father. Though God is man’s Father by creation, we are alienated from Him by sin (Isaiah 59:2), and are thereby “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). However, through faith in, and obedience to, the gospel of Christ, we can, in repentance, and, being baptized, return to His favor (Romans 1:16; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Romans 6:3-4). As the prodigal son, we who were “dead” can now be “alive again,” and we who were “lost” can now be “found.” May those who are lost be “in subjection to the Father of spirits, and live” (Hebrews 12:9).
- Ronald Bartanen preaches for Arthur Church of Christ, Arthur, IL. He may be contacted through the congregation's website.