LOST & FOUND THEME: Chapter 15 contains three parables all built on the premise of something being lost, searched for, and once again found. Jesus gives these parables in the context of the Pharisees grumbling that Jesus spent so much time with sinful, lost people rather than stellar law keepers like themselves.
LOST SHEEP: All through both the Old and New Testament sheep metaphorically represent God's people. God cares so much for those who have wandered off that He often puts the bulk of His church in a safe place, and then spends much time and effort going to find and rescue the one who has become lost.
LOST COIN: This second parable closely mirrors the first, only using a coin as the lost subject rather than a sheep. In both of these parables, the value of the lost item - a sheep and a coin worth one day's wages - is not super high, so these parables show us that God's love for us as individuals exceeds what we think we're worth.
LOST SON: The third parable adds several elements to the mix. It's not just a stupid animal that followed its curiosity rather than the shepherd, or an inanimate coin that got misplaced, rather it's a sinful person that willfully walked away from his loving father. Although the father doesn't go searching for his son, we do see him continually watching the horizon for any sign of the boy long after he'd left, and when the father spots him, Luke uses an interesting idiom to describe it: literally the father's guts came out, similar to the phrase we use where we say 'our hearts go out to him.' This word is only used in the Bible to describe three people: this father, the Good Samaritan, and Jesus (see Luke 7:13 for a good example).
CELEBRATE GOOD TIMES, C'MON! The primary theme in these parables (interestingly Luke describes all three of these as one parable (v3)) is how much celebration occurs when a lost sinner is found and saved. Join the party! Come back home if your lost, and help add to the celebration if you've already been found by bringing others to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Follow the AAA Prayer Pattern:
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: A loving God whose 'heart goes out' to lost sinners and who rejoices each time one is saved.
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Celebrate with God for the successes being seen as the gospel goes out in faithful churches around the world (v32) and pray for even more success.
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: