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Luke 15 - The Parable of the Lost & Found

Lesson Author Date File

Prodigal, Seven Steps To Ruin 1

Wallace, Steven 2020.01.05 mp3
Prodigal, Seven Steps to Ruin 2 Wallace, Steven 2020.01.12 mp3
Prodigal, Seven Steps to Restoration 1 Wallace, Steven 2020.01.12 mp3
Prodigal, Seven Steps to Restoration 2 Wallace, Steven 2020.01.19 mp3
Prelude to the Parable Wallace, Steven 2020.02.09 mp3
The Older Son: An Inward Rebel 1 Wallace, Steven 2020.02.16 mp3
The Older Son: An Inward Rebel 2 Wallace, Steven 2020.02.23 mp3
Revelation And Creation PowerPoint and Audio Material

Outline on the Prelude To the Parable

Complete series outline and charts available here: Luke 15 Lost & Found


  1.  We’ve been studying the prodigal son, but he is only one of three persons in this text. This rich piece of Scripture is about three personalities (the father and his two sons) and is part of a larger narrative that has two other pictures illustrating heaven’s joy when what is lost is found.
  2. Why are these pictures in Luke 15? I am not going to speak so much about the parable in this lesson, but what stems from it and what leads into it.


The Value of One

    •  This entire parable should give us pause on how we view growth and what lies at the foundation of growth is a single sinner that turns to God.

      We find the value of one in these pictures by the joy that erupts in heaven following the rediscovery of one sinner.

      A tendency can exist to become fixated with great numbers measuring success by how many people come to Jesus. This is what led to various departures from the faith throughout time and to the formation of the megachurch in recent times with attraction-driven evangelism. Quantity is valued over quality. Quality gospel meetings are replaced with a gimmick filled gospel or some kind of seminar with more of an emotional or worldly appeal.

     We should never forget that Jesus frequently spent time teaching one person (Nicodemus, Jn. 3; the Samaritan woman, Jn. 4; a crippled beggar, Jn. 5; a woman in adultery, Jn. 8; a blind man, Jn. 9; a demoniac, Mk. 5; a rich young ruler, Matt. 19:16ff;  Zacchaeus, Lk. 19; etc., etc.).

      1.  There were many times when thousands upon thousands of people gathered to hear Him (Lk. 12:1; Matt. 4:25; 8:1, 18; 12:15; 13:2; etc.).
      2.  Of the myriads that followed Jesus, when we enter the book of Acts, we find only 120 disciples (Acts 1:15). Why? Many of His disciples followed Him no more (Jn. 6:66).

    After Jesus ascended, thousands were baptized on the day of Pentecost. However, my bible professor quantitatively speculated that over 100,000 Jewish men would have been in Jerusalem for this feast. Regardless, the book of Acts speaks qualitatively that these were not just Jews, but “devout Jews,” (Acts 2:5). Of the thousands that left their homes to make the great journey to Jerusalem 3000 courageously took their stand with the apostles and the crucified Messiah. The number of male converts grew to 5000 (Acts 4:4).

     We read that growth is tied directly to the spreading of the word (Acts 6:7). Without spreading it, we cannot expect growth.

    But what is often taken for granted in initial growth and sustained growth is the will of the receiver. Without a receptive heart, preaching is like scattering seed on concrete which will not produce anything. God is always the power of growth as it is His seed that germinates and sprouts in the hearts of sinners who welcome it.

     The Bible also forces the mature student to see a sobering picture that can disorient some.

    As we have seen in the life of Christ, so the Bible shows not only great moments of numerical growth but afterward the possibility of great apostasy (2 Tim. 1:15). This parallels John 6:66 where stubborn self-will dethrones Jesus from being the hearts.

     Sadly, Asia is where the word of God once grew mightily and prevailed (Acts 19:20).

          1. Timothy experienced this growth working alongside Paul. It is the test of one’s fortitude, not when it is popular, but in controversy, unpopularity, and departure is at hand. One either grows ashamed or remains true to the testimony and to the apostles (2 Tim. 1:8).
          2. The root of departure in the formation of denominationalism and apostate churches that are “of Christ” in name only is fundamentally tied to 2 Timothy 1:8.
          3. Are you willing to suffer when great numbers leave the Lord or will you meet occasions like this with Peter’s view (Jn. 6:67, 68)? Likewise, how joyful and thankful are you when only one person repents and turns to the Lord? Do we take for granted the value of one sinner?

 The Prelude

    Now when I first entitled this lesson, I designated it “the ‘good’ son” with “good” being in quotes because we might be tempted to think of the older brother as the good son who stays at home, works the field, and doesn’t squander his father’s inheritance with ungodly living. Is he a “good son”?

     What brought on this parable of pictures, what is the lead-in, what is the parable’s prelude?

      1. Immediately, the Lord is defending Himself against false allegations (15:1, 2).

        “Receive” (marg. welcomes. Definition: to admit, to accept as a companion).

        “Sinners” a person devoted to sin. Some were redefining His mission joining in and approving the defiled lifestyles of lowlifes.

      2.  Some were defaming Him with the worst kind of charges.

        Some insisted He was demon-possessed (Jn. 8:48).

        When He cast out demons, others asserted that he operated through the power of the ruler of demons (Lk. 11:15).

      3.  A history of adverse criticism (long before Luke 15).

        They complained about Jesus associating with tax-collectors in Luke 5:29-32.

         He was questioned about fasting in Luke 5:33.

         His disciples were charged as Sabbath-breakers in Luke 6:2. His opponents also watched Him closely if He would heal on the Sabbath so that they might find a charge to make against Him (read, Lk. 6:6-11).

     The prelude to this parable shows that His accusers are never pleased (Lk. 7:31-35).

    In the marketplace, men would look for work and all kinds of activity would be going on. Children would also be found reenacting adult scenarios. The Lord views His accusers like immature children who, though very young in age, arrogantly think they can set the tone and message for everyone to follow. What are you reenacting in your life, young man? Are you regurgitating the scenes of agitated adults over the righteous or are you practicing submission to the Lord?

    When they play the flute, neither Jesus nor John participated in their music. Their response: John has a demon…John’s message was somber and accusatory, not comical or fun.

    When they shifted and began to mourn, Jesus did not mourn with them. Their response: Jesus is a glutton, winebibber, a friend of sinners.

    This was not a benign charge but one worthy of death (Deut. 21:20, 21). They falsely accused Jesus because of their blind prejudice against Him—you know, nothing good can come from Nazareth and surely not an uneducated carpenter.

     Yet wisdom is justified in her children! There are those who are children of the envious critic who regurgitate dangerous and destructive criticisms and there are children of wisdom who have honest hearts and obey its teaching. Many heeded John and Jesus. These conversions, if you will, vindicated their work. But whose child are you?

    To the Pharisees, Jesus appears to be a lone wolf, a scribe who doesn’t fit with their mold. He is a renegade that challenges their decisions, violates their traditions and breaks down the fences they have made against others. They are so repulsed with Jesus that they do not even refer to Him by name but rather “this Man” (Lk. 15:2; cf. the reviling of the blind man, Jn. 9:28, 29).

     Why the false allegations?

    His accusers are jealous of His success and are hypercritical of Him, seeking to find any accusation that they can affix upon Him. They will eventually crucify Jesus from envy (Matt. 27:18).

       Solomon asked a thought-provoking question in Proverbs 27:4, “Wrath is cruel and anger a torrent, But who is able to stand before jealousy?”

      What these Scriptures prove is that love and envy cannot coexist. One woman observed, “The battle against envy is about growing the kind of heart that rejoices over somebody else’s party hat.” That is an interesting observation as we get into the older brother who would not rejoice at his father’s celebration but was angry and refused to enter the house. Imagine if his first response was “joy” like his father had?

      Envy cannot coexist with love or joy and therefore envy renders every man’s tree barren of the fruit of the Spirit! Likewise, a tree that produces the fruit of the Spirit cannot envy others.

     This triune parable has a purpose:

      1. It is the Lord’s defense and definition of His mission. Why did He come to earth? Why did He spend time with sinners? It was to search out and save (Lk. 19:10).
      2. The value of one soul.
      3. The lengths that God will go to forgive all kinds of sinners. Jesus is like the Shepherd who finds the wayward sheep. He is like the woman who searches the house for the lost coin. He is among the sinners, not to approve of their works, but to reclaim that which has wandered away! Yet the religious establishment then did not see themselves as lost, in need of a savior, in need of forgiveness (Lk. 18:9).

    In this final, but often ignored section, Jesus will stand his accusers up before His mirror that shows their apostacy of heart. Where the younger brother represents a Jew who wanders from God by external immoral acts, the elder son identifies the one who has religious works but has left the Lord in the heart (Matt. 15:8).

     What has set up this final section from the parable itself?

      1. The outrageous request to take his inheritance and walk away with it.
      2. The outrageous agreement of His father to grant that outrageous request (that is how the listeners would have judged it).

        He grants it because God will allow you to exercise free will in making outrageous decisions to journey as far as you can from His presence.

        God will not stop you from living a prodigal life, but He will not follow you there. He will not provide for you while you are there and He will not approve of you while there.

      3. The outrageous conduct of the son while away. He lived an outrageously lawless life and squandered everything. He threw his fortune to the wind by living a life of wicked indulgences.

        In such, the younger son practically threw away being an heir of Abraham. He traveled to a foreign land, lived as a foreigner, joined up with a foreigner, and worked as a slave for a pig farmer. The prodigal becomes so hungry that he is nearly ready to fight the hogs for their own feed. Everything about the prodigal is outrageous and would have made the Pharisees cringe. However, the prodigal returns to himself; he feels remorse and then resolves to return to his father if only to be a servant.

      4. The outrageous reception by the father. The Pharisees likely had the expectation that this wayward son would have done time for his rebellion and work as a slave to pay off the riches he squandered. He should do slave labor, be locked away in prison, or have some form of hard punishment placed upon him. However, the father shockingly had compassion for him, runs to his son, falls on his neck and kisses him. He quickly reinstates him as a son. He gives him the best robe, a signet ring, and sandals. The father’s reception would have been despicable to the Pharisees and scribes. His celebration was of the best kind, the fatted calf! Yet this would have been judged as ridiculous and reprehensible.

Now the Lord is directing the point to them in their abusive stance against Christ. They are the older son. We’ve walked with the prodigal. Are you ready to walk with the older son? Follow the journey of both sons in the audio links above.



"Overcome Evil with Good"

Two builders build houses. Two lives are lived. One falls in the storm while the other one stands. What is the difference?



"The Syro-Phoenician Woman"

An old exhortation needs to be fresh in our daily activities--continue in the faith!


How To Call On The Lord To Be Saved?

It is a phrase which is often stated but one that is unlikely explained. You must "call on the name of the Lord" to be saved. But what does it mean? How do we call on the name of the Lord today?


This command was also unclear to many of the Jews in the first century. The apostle Peter was preaching the gospel to thousands on the day of Pentecost wherein he quoted from the prophet Joel, "And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the LORD Shall be saved" (Acts 2:21).

After he testified against their deeds and after he gave irrefutable proof that Jesus was the Christ, the people were pierced to the heart and asked a very important question, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" (Acts 2:37). If they knew "how to call on the name of the Lord, they would not have asked, "what shall we do?"

To keep reading, click here!

The Plan of Salvation

Have you obeyed the gospel? Is the gospel to be obeyed and if so, what is required? We know the gospel is to be obeyed because Paul said of our Lord’s second coming,

“in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 1:8).

To keep reading, click here!

How To Study The Bible

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