What Do One Sheep, One Coin, and Two Sons Have in Common?
This sounds like the start of a joke, doesn’t it. But in reality, there’s an important message here. Not that jokes can’t have important messages.
Jokes are a form of stories, and we can all relate to stories. Stories help us to see things from different perspectives or witness things when we aren’t even there. They can let us see things that we can’t physically see. They allow us feel things that we can relate to.
Jesus used stories to help us understand and relate to things.
As Pastor Lisa has been going through the Book of Luke, we’ve heard a lot of Jesus’ stories. This week was no different. These stories are commonly called parables.
A parable is an illustrative story, by which a familiar idea is cast beside an unfamiliar one in such a way that the comparison helps people to better understand or grasp the unfamiliar one. A simple story is told, certain features of which are similar or parallel to the points or principles one wishes to drive home.
Back to the one sheep, the one coin, and the two sons.
In Luke 15, Jesus is hanging out with a bunch of sinners (this would be all of us). And once again the Pharisees and teachers of the law are grumbling about this. Then He tells them a story about a single lost sheep (Luke 15:1-7) and the importance of finding it.
Then He tells them about a lady looking for one lost coin (Luke 15:8-10) and how she looks and looks until she finds it. Then she celebrates and the shares her excitement with her friends once it’s found.
We’ve all heard the story about the two sons, commonly called the “prodigal son”. (Luke 15:11-32) The younger son is given his share of his father’s money and after squandering it, comes back to be welcomed by his father. Then the older son is upset about him being welcomed home with a celebration.
We can all relate to the different people in these stories at different times.
Both sons in this last story made mistakes. Like the sons in this story, we’ve done stupid things as well. The father forgave both of his sons for their errors. One wasn’t better or more deserving of forgiveness than the other. Our Heavenly Father does the same for us.
In Luke it is clear that Jesus was looking for the least, the last, and the lost. From the first chapters until the end. Luke is always drawing attention to the ways in which, as Mary puts it in the Magnificat, God casts down the proud and lifts up the lowly.
Forgiveness is something that we need to both give and ask for. It is one of the most powerful weapons we have. We need to forgive those who do not ask for forgiveness. Forgive those who criticize us unjustly. Forgive ourselves.
Forgiveness is a secret that is hidden in plain sight. It costs nothing and is worth millions. It is available to everyone and used by few. If you harness the power of forgiveness, you will be sought after and regarded highly. And not coincidentally, you will also be forgiven by others!” (6th Decision from The Traveler’s Gift)
It doesn’t matter who we are, we can be forgiven.
Forgiveness requires faith. We must have faith in God. We must have faith in others. We must have faith in ourselves. Having faith in ourselves is one of the hardest things to do.
We make faith harder than we need to. In Matthew 17:20-21 Jesus tells us, “I can promise you this. If you had faith no larger than a mustard seed, you could tell this mountain to move from here to there. And it would. Everything would be possible for you.”
The mustard seed is tiny. When our faith is smaller than a mustard seed…it’s pretty much non-existent.
Learn from Jesus’ stories. Forgive yourself and others. Have mustard seed sized faith.