What does it say?
Luke 14 give yet another Sabbath healing (14:1-6). Meals are central to life in first century society, and the events of this chapter take place in the context of a meal in the home of a leading Pharisee. Meals are statements of friendship and social ranking. Jesus tells about a wedding feast to illustrate the need for genuine humility (14:7-11). He then challenges his host to invite people that cannot reciprocate to him in kind. He follows with another story that has to do with meal protocol and the kingdom of God (14:12-24). The rest of the chapter is a challenge regarding the cost of discipleship (14:25-35)
Luke 15 is one of the more important chapters in the Bible as Jesus tells a parable (15:3) that is really three stories, each illustrating some aspect of repentance and God’s grace. The three stories have to do with a lost sheep, a lost coin and a lost son. We often call this final story The Prodigal Son.
What does it mean?
A formal meal involves strict ceremonial protocol, and Jesus challenges his hosts while turning standard protocol on its ear. Beginning with a question about healing on the Sabbath, he puts the focus on the value of human life over that of the law. In this meal context Jesus says that meals should be inclusive, not exclusive, and missional, expressing God’s love, not impressing others. We should reach out to people that have nothing to offer to us, willing to risk our status rather than concerned to build it up.
Jesus is very clear about the cost of being his disciple. One must be willing to love him more than family, be willing to follow him to the death and to count the cost of being his disciple.
All three stories of Luke 15 are related and very connected to concepts that appear in the entire Bible. The all have something that is lost – a sheep, a coin and a son. None of these is capable of finding themselves. In every case great celebration is made in honor of the one that finds that which has been lost. All are a picture of God finding us and offers us a radically new definition or repentance – not what I do or do not do, but simply allowing myself to be found by a loving God.
How will I respond?
How can I use a meal this coming week for a missional purpose? Can I communicate to someone in need of God’s love this definition of repentance – simply allowing God to find us?