Illustrations of Grace: The Lost Son or The Prodigal Son

The Father’s love is so inviting, generous, forgiving, and comforting.

Forgiveness can be very difficult when you feel taken advantage of, it is much easier to want to take revenge and have an “I’ll show them” attitude. But this is not so with our Heavenly Father.

Luke 15 ends with the Parable of the prodigal son. It is another familiar Bible story that beautifully demonstrate God’s amazing grace.

Jesus tells this parable to show how much the Lord really does care for human beings and to share the truth of our Heavenly Father’s delight in rescuing us. God takes joy in granting us deliverance. Jesus uses this parable to reveal our Heavenly Father’s heart. He desires for us to come to repentance. He wants us to know we can have the hope of eternal life.

How often do we find our eyes selfishly glued to getting what we want so we can have our way? The younger son in this parable wants his inheritance from the father before the father even dies. Such impatience, such an attitude of entitlement, and such a demanding way. Yet, I can see all of these attitude come about in my life at different times. How about you?

The father gives in and the son takes the inheritance money and leaves. He parties and enjoys life with others who just want a good time. He lives like this till he has squandered away all of the money. And when the money is gone so are his so-called friends. No big surprise there. Humans use others and get used by others.

When the son finally finds himself in a pig pen starving, he realizes that even his fathers’ servants have it better than what he is dealing with. It takes us coming to the end of ourselves and everything we thought could satisfy us to recognize what we really need.

The son heads home and all the way he rehearses in his mind what he will say to his father. He has it all planned out.

Little does he realize how much his father’s heart is still filled with love for him. His father has been wanting him to come home, he has been looking for him, waiting for him. His heart is tender toward his son.

So that day when the father looks down the road and sees the son, he is thrilled and he runs to meet him. This was a very dishonorable way for a man of this culture to respond. But this is such a beautiful picture of love and grace. The father running to meet his filthy, smelly son who had been so rude and ungrateful.

Jesus tells this parable to show the Pharisees and us the heart of God. God welcomes the sinful. The Pharisees were stuck in the concrete of legalism, missing God’s love, God’s grace, God’s open forgiveness. They did not see any need to repent. They didn’t see how they too had taken the Father’s gifts and used them to gain standing in their lives.

Jesus wanted them to see that it wasn’t about what they could do,  it wasn’t about them keeping the laws, and looking perfect on the outside.

It is all about knowing God’s heart. And in recognizing God’s love, humbling ourselves and repenting. We must realize our sinfulness and our need for forgiveness. The lost son realizes he has sinned against heaven and before his father as well. He sees the truth of what he has done and calls himself unworthy to be his father’s son.

We too are unworthy to be called sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father apart from the grace of Jesus taking away our sins and then covering us in His own righteousness, making us worthy before God.

The Father welcomes the Son with hugs and kisses and calls for a robe, and a party. We who have come to know our Heavenly Father through Jesus are given Christ’s robe of righteousness and look forward to a wonderful reunion in heaven. The party of all parties, I can’t even imagine how much rejoicing there will be there.

The lost was once again found. Holy God reaches to sinful humans with love and grace.

Do we see it?

Do we accept it?

Do we acknowledge its cost?

How valuable and precious we are to our Heavenly Father.

The older brother in this story is not so pleased with the party for his younger brother who left with the money. We may think, he is right, we may have felt the same way. He has after all stayed with the father and has been taking care of everything. Isn’t that unjust? But, if that is all we see, we miss how this older son was also lost. He did not recognize his father’s love for him. This older son worked to feed his own self-righteousness. He worked to prove himself. He wanted his father to see how great he was. He missed all that the father had for him. He refused to be a part of the receiving grace, or giving grace.

Where do you find yourself in this story? Do you see yourself in the attitudes of either of the sons? Do you know God’s welcoming lavish grace and love for you? Are you trying to take all you can get from the Father for your own selfish ways? Or are you somehow trying to earn your place with Him?

We may know the right answers to these questions but the way we live our lives day-to-day before God shows the reality of what is in our hearts.

The Father’s arms are open wide, ready to welcome us. Come humbly to Him and find His love. Be found in Him. His grace is amazing.

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Illustrations of Grace: The Lost Coin

The parable of the lost coin is found in Luke 15:8-10. Jesus tells this parable to illustrate another facet of God’s grace. Jesus explains that a woman loses a coin in her home. You may think it must be very valuable to matter so much. And it was to her.

I remember,  a few years back,  my diamond fell out of my wedding ring and I didn’t realize that it had happened. I was so upset and frantic to find it once I realized it was missing.  I thought it would be nearly impossible, but I found it in the carpet in our living room. I can’t tell you how happy and relieved I was. It turns out that the prongs that were to hold it in had gotten broken somehow.

Commentators explain that the coin the woman lost was really only valued at about 16 cents. But it had real value for a different reason. According to ancient customs, a married woman would take the money she had accumulated through her life and sew it in a headdress that she wore on her wedding day, The coins represented all she had contributed to her marriage. So, when this woman realized that one of the coins had fallen out, she, too, was frantic to find it, just as I was regarding my diamond.

It is suggested by some commentators that the purpose of this parable may be to lead us to consider if we ourselves have someone who is lost in our home. Is there someone going through the motions of religion? Or maybe one who just goes to church or Sunday school, but has not come to know the Lord in a personal way. Or maybe there is someone who adamantly refuses to go to church or even listen to anything about God. These lost people are precious to the Lord, just as they are precious to us.

Jesus wants us to be aware of the lost and to be as diligent in finding them and helping them as the woman was in finding her lost coin. All have great value in the Lord’s eyes. We need to talk with those in our homes and gain a good understanding of where they are at spiritually. 

Transparency and authenticity are important in helping others to see Christ. We need to be real as we talk about the truth of our own sinfulness and be open about seeking forgiveness from those we have wronged as well as confessing our sinfulness to the Lord. We need to share the reality of God’s grace to us as sinners.

Our attitude needs to be one of humility as we share. It is all about Jesus. No one is drawn to the realness of a loving, gracious Savior by a prideful attitude that says “I’m better than you.” Our salvation had nothing to do with what we have done, but is all about what Jesus has done for us, taking our place on the cross.

Sometimes, we come to a place where words only cause arguments, and any situation that brings Jesus to the forefront causes animosity in our loved ones. It is in those cases that prayer becomes even more important. When we feel that all doors of opportunity are shut off to us, we still always have hope in what the Lord might do. So we must pray for the Lord to lead us in wisdom to know when to share and to know how not to be nagging. We need to ask Him to be at work in the heart of our loved one.

We also need the Lord to help us to learn how to demonstrate love and compassion as Jesus did. It can be difficult, and frustration can fill us, but we must hold tight to our hope in Christ. The Lord can work in the hearts in ways that we cannot even imagine. He looks into the depths of our hearts and knows where we are in our relationship with Him. He knows what needs to change within us and what needs to change in the hearts of our loved ones. He is able to take hearts of stone and replace them with hearts of flesh. Prayer needs to be our lifeline, through the struggle, disappointment, and frustration as we wait for that lost one to be drawn to faith.

The parable of the lost coin shows us a woman who doesn’t give up but is persistent in making the lost to be found. Let’s strive to have our determination match hers. And when that one is found in faith, let’s rejoice with heaven, let’s praise the Lord for His amazing grace to each one of us.