Life-Study of Lukeby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In 9:51—19:27 we have a record of the Man-Savior going from Galilee to Jerusalem. The Lord was going to Jerusalem in order to die so that through His death and resurrection He might bring in the jubilee. On the way to Jerusalem He encountered frustration from the religious people, especially from the Pharisees and lawyers. Many of the cases that took place on the way from Galilee to Jerusalem are related to the frustration caused by the religious ones. The cases in chapter fourteen, for example, concern the Pharisees. In chapter fifteen the situation remains the same, even though the Lord has dealt with the darkened thoughts and nonsensical reasonings of the Pharisees.
Luke 15:1 and 2 say, “Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were drawing near to Him to hear Him. And both the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling, saying, This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” The tax collectors and sinners were grateful to the Man-Savior and drew near to Him. But the religious people were bothered by this and grumbled that the Lord welcomed sinners and ate with them. It was due to this grumbling that the Lord told the three parables in chapter fifteen (v. 3).
In answering the self-righteous Pharisees and scribes who condemned the Savior for eating with the sinners, He spoke three parables unveiling and depicting how the Divine Trinity works to bring sinners back through the Son by the Spirit to the Father. The Son came in His humanity as the Shepherd to find the sinner as a lost sheep and bring it back home (vv. 4-7). The Spirit seeks the sinner as a woman seeks carefully one lost coin until she finds it (vv. 8-10). And the Father receives the repenting and returned sinner as a certain man receives his prodigal son (vv. 11-32). The entire Divine Trinity treasures the sinner and participates in bringing him back to God. All three parables emphasize the love of the Divine Trinity more than the fallen condition and repentance of the penitent sinner. The divine love is fully expressed in the Son’s tender care as the good Shepherd, in the Spirit’s fine seeking as the treasure lover, and in the Father’s warm receiving as a loving father.
When I was young I heard much concerning how the loving father received the prodigal son. I also heard about the good shepherd. But it was not pointed out to me that in these three parables we can see the Trinity, with each parable referring to one of the Trinity. Clearly, the shepherd refers to the Son, the woman refers to the Spirit, and the father refers to the heavenly Father. Therefore, in these parables the Three of the Trinity are clearly depicted.
The sequence of the Trinity in Luke 15 is different from that in Matthew 28:19. In Matthew 28:19 the sequence is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. But in Luke we first have the Son as the shepherd, then the Spirit as the woman, and finally the Father as the father receiving his returned son. Therefore, in Luke 15 the sequence begins with the Son, goes to the Spirit, and leads to the Father. This sequence is exactly the same as that in Ephesians 2:18: “For through Him we both have access in one Spirit unto the Father.” According to this verse, our access first is in the Son and then through the Spirit. Through the Son and in the Spirit we have access unto the Father. This is our access into the Triune God, access through the Son, in the Spirit, and unto the Father.
It is important for us to understand why the Son is mentioned first in Luke 15. The reason the Son is first is that in God’s salvation the One who comes, practically speaking, is the Son. The Son comes to accomplish redemption, which is the first need, because redemption is the foundation of our salvation. The redemption accomplished by Christ’s death on the cross is the base of God’s salvation. Once this foundation has been laid, we can build upon it. In order to accomplish redemption, the Son, portrayed in Luke 15 as the good shepherd, comes first.
Now that the Son has accomplished redemption, the Spirit comes to find us. The book of Acts indicates this. In the Gospels the Son came to accomplish redemption. After the accomplishment of redemption by the Son, we see from the book of Acts that the Spirit comes to seek us and find us. Because of the Spirit’s finding of us, we repent and come back to God the Father. Then, according to the third parable in Luke 15, the Father is waiting for us to come back.
What a wonderful sequence we have in Luke 15! The sequence here is not according to Persons of the Trinity; the sequence is according to the steps of God’s salvation, the salvation based on Christ’s redemption. God’s salvation is by the Son, through the Spirit, and unto the Father.
Luke 15:4 says, “What man of you, having a hundred sheep and having lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?” Here the “wilderness” signifies the world. The shepherd going into the wilderness to seek the lost sheep indicates that the Son has come to the world to be with men (John 1:14).
Luke 15:5 continues, “And having found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And coming into his house, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep, the one that was lost!” Here we see the Savior’s saving strength and His saving love.
In 15:8 the Lord goes on to say, “Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, and sweep the house, and seek carefully until she finds it?” Literally the Greek word rendered “silver coins” means drachmas (so also v. 9), worth about the same as the Roman denarius. One drachma was equivalent to a day’s wages.
The lamp signifies the word of God (Psa. 119:105, 130) used by the Spirit to enlighten and expose the sinner’s position and condition so that he may repent.
According to verse 8, the woman sweeps the house and seeks carefully until she finds the lost coin. The word “sweep” indicates the searching and cleansing of the inside of a sinner. The Son’s finding in verse 4 is outside the sinner, completed at the cross through His redemptive death. The Spirit’s seeking here is inside, carried out by His working within the repenting sinner.
Verses 9 and 10 say, “And having found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, Rejoice with me for I have found the coin which I lost! In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner repenting.” In verse 9 the Greek words “friends” and “neighbors” are feminine, differing from friends and neighbors in verse 6, which are masculine.
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