Overview: Luke chapter 15 records an exchange between Jesus and some Pharisees who were critical of him because he “…welcomes sinners and eats with them.” He takes their criticism head-on with three parables, one about a good shepherd finding his lost sheep, another about a woman finding her lost coin, andl one about a loving father rejoicing over the return of a lost son. In his message, Jesus communicates his theology of purpose, grace, and joy. The theme often overlooked in his stories and in modern Christianity is the theology of repentance, the theme that brought the most joy in each story and the action to which he was calling the Pharisees.
I Review of Luke 15
A. Summary. Sinners and tax collectors (the undesirables) were drawn to the message of Jesus. The Pharisees and tax collectors did not like it. Jesus responds to them with three stories
- Parable of the Good Shepherd (Lost Sheep)
- Parable of the Lost Coin
- Parable of the Loving Father (Prodigal Son)
B. The other theme of the parables.
- They are about his purpose, salvation, grace, joy
- They are also about and repentance
- Why does Jesus say ”…there will be more rejoicing in heaven…” in Luke 15:7 (NIV)?
7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. (Luke 15:7, New International Version, ©2011)
23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate.24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. (Luke 15:23-24, New International Version, ©2011)
II. Jewish Repentance. Read 1 Kings 8:47-50 You see in the prayer of Solomon all of the elements of repentance that is echoed in the teachings of Jesus and the apostles. Solomon is prayer for an inevitable time when God’s chosen people are separated from God
- Realization. “have a change of heart…” v46; “’We have sinned, we have done wrong, we have acted wickedly.’ v47
- Pleading and Sorrow “repent and pleaded with you…” v47
- Return “if they turn back to you with all their heart and soul…” v48
III. Christian Repentance. Christian teachings mirror the repentance requirements from the Jews:
- Confession (Concede). 1 John 1:8-9
- Contrition. 2 Corinthians 7:10, Matthew 5:4
- Change. Acts 26:20
8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:8-10, New International Version, ©2011)
20 First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and then to the Gentiles, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds. (Acts 26:20,New International Version, ©2011)
IV. Luke 15 and Repentance. The message of repentance was for the Pharisees. Jesus leads them into the call. They were no doubt offended that there was rejoicing over the sinners and not them because in their mind they didn’t need to repent.
- The parables were aggressive and clearly meant primarily for the Pharisees. Shepherd (proscribed trade,good/bad shepherd), woman, shameful sons.
- So why did Jesus say “…there will be more rejoicing in heaven…” in Luke 15:7. It’s a trick…there is no one who is righteous, no one who does “not need to repent” v7
- Parallel Solomon’s prayer and the father’s younger son. The son finds himself separated from his father through his selfishness, in a far country, with a change of heart. He returns with confession, contrition, and change
“When they sin against you – for there is no one who does not sin” 1 Kings 8:4
“If we claim to be without sin we deceive ourselves…” 1 John 1:8
- Repentance is for the Selfish/rebellious like the younger brother
- Repentance is for the self-righteous/religious like the older brother. I identified with the Pharisees…I was upset that there was not more rejoicing because I had lived so well I didn’t need to repent…I need to repent.
- Repentance is not a one time thing. Its continual life of Confession, Contrition, and Change.