The Instruction in the Presence of Sinners and Self-Righteous

The Parable of the Lost Sheep, Lost Coin and Lost Son (Luke 15:1-31). Jesus has left the Pharisee’s
house and tax collectors and “sinners” were all gathering around to hear Him in fulfillment of the
previous parables. But the Pharisees and teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and
eats with them.” So Jesus tells one parable with three parts that have main one point: God and the
angels rejoice over the salvation of a lost sinner.

The elder son is the forgotten person in this parable, and yet he is the key to the story. The prodigal son
symbolizes the tax collectors and sinners. The elder brother represents the teachers of the law and
Pharisees. They may not have been guilty of the gross things the younger son did, but they were still
sinners, guilty of a critical and unloving spirit, pride, and unwillingness to forgive. There are sins of the
flesh as well as of the spirit (2 Corinthians 7:1).

The elder brother like the religious leaders stayed outside the joy and fellowship of those who had been
forgiven and welcomed by the Father. By staying outside the house, the elder brother humiliated his
father and his brother. The Father could have commanded him to come in, but he preferred to go out and
plead with him. That is what Jesus did with the Jewish religious leaders, but they would not be
persuaded. They thought they were saved because of their exemplary conduct, but they were out of
fellowship with the Father and needed to repent and seek forgiveness.

Parable of the Shrewd Manager (Luke 16:1-15). Jesus did not see a “great gulf” fixed between the
material and the spiritual, for one of the most spiritual things we can do is use the material things to the
glory of God in winning the lost. The point of the parable is during this brief life, we have the
opportunity to use wealth to make friends for God, friends who will meet us in heaven!

Additional Teachings on Covetousness (16:13-18). Jesus said a man may become a slave of money or
a slave of God but cannot be a slave to both. This brought the sneers of the Pharisee who loved money,
which they pursued and counted a sign of God’s pleasure in them. What people esteem, God despises;
and the righteousness that these Pharisees despised was esteemed by God.

Jesus is introducing the New Covenant in fulfillment of the Law (Old Covenant) in the most minute detail
(cf. Luke 21:33), but the Law still stands against a person who does not repent and receive Him. For
instance, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who
marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

Covetousness may manifest itself in the desire for money or for another person’s marriage partner. A
person who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery because divorce does not
sever the oneness of marriage in God’s eyes. John the Baptizer lost his head because he spoke out against
the unlawful, adulterous marriage of Herod Antipas and Herodias, who divorced Herod Philip to marry
Antipas (Mark 13:3-4). Those who are characterized by sexual immorality are among those excluded
from the kingdom.

Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived:
Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual
offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the
kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

Teaching on the Outcome of Worshiping Wealth (Luke 16:19-31). This is not a parable, but an actual
occurrence. The rich man used his wealth only to please himself and maintain his extravagant life-style.
He did not use it to care for the poor and needy, not even the poor man begging at his very door. Lazarus
in effect witnessed to the rich man (Luke 16:27-28), but in false security, the rich man would not repent.
When death came, it changed everything. The rich man was poor and tormented, and the poor man was
rich and in paradise! Keep in mind that faith made the difference. The situations were reversed and
fixed. They could not be changed. Jesus teaches that if someone’s mind is closed to the Scripture, no
evidence—even His own resurrection will change him.

Christ’s three lessons of Luke 16 drive home the danger of wasting wealth, coveting wealth and
worshiping wealth.

Lessons on Sin, Forgiveness, Faith and Duty (Luke 17:1-10). Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that
cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come.” The “little
ones” are the tax collectors and sinners who come to faith in Him. Don’t do anything to cause them to
stumble. Anyone who repents must be forgiven his sin. A small amount of faith is powerful. The
world’s idea of success is to lord it over others; Jesus’ way is the reverse—namely, servanthood which is
the duty of every believer. The circumstance Jesus describes is the reverse of the normal in that society
and the point is obvious.

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