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Scripture Reading: Psalm 130

Luke 15: Mercy, Forgiveness and Rejoicing


1.  Lk. 15:1-2: Complaints of the Pharisees and scribes against Jesus prompted three parables:

  (1) Lost sheep, 15:3-7 Compassion of God;

  (2) Lost Coin, 15:8-10 Value of One Soul;

  (3) Lost Son, 15:11-32 Man’s Response to God’s Mercy.

2.  These parables impress upon us of our need for forgiveness, God’s willingness to forgive, and our reaction when God does forgive.

3.  Which character(s) in these parables describes you?



  A.  God Seeks the Lost, Matt. 18:10-14. So must we!

    1.  Instead, we yield to the temptation to scrutinize and sanitize gospel prospects, cf. Matt. 9:9-13 (Acts 10:34-35).

    2.  Self-righteousness, Lk. 18:9; Isa. 65:5.

  B.  Heaven Rejoices over One Sinner who is Saved, Lk. 15:5-7.

    1.  We mute heaven’s joy when we say, “It won’t last”; expect failure.

    2.  The Pharisees and scribes considered themselves “just”, yet they were the ones needing to be “found” (saved).

    3.  Rejoice over repenting sinners!



    -Sum was small, but it was all she had. Losing one coin severely felt.

  A.  God Sent His Son to “FindLost Souls, Jno. 3:16; Lk. 19:10.

  B.  Souls are Worth the Effort to Try to Save, 1 Cor. 9:19-23.

    1.  cf. One Christian who wanders from the truth, Jas. 5:19-20.

    2.  The Pharisees / scribes placed no value on the “sinners” (15:1).

    3.  We must be motivated to try to restore the fallen, Gal. 6:1.


III.  THE LOST SON: GOD’S FORGIVENESS AND OUR MERCY, Lk. 15:11-32. (This parable justified Jesus’ conduct in receiving sinners, to show that rejoicing over their return was proper, and to rebuke the unthankful, hardened hearts of the Pharisees/scribes.)

  A.  The Wasteful, Unthankful Treatment of God’s Blessings is Sin, Lk. 15:11-16.

    1.  Gospel gives an inheritance to sinners, Acts 26:18.

    2.  Christians have obtained this inheritance, Eph. 1:11.

    3.  Sin is the wasteful (prodigal) treatment of God’s inheritance:

      a.  Neglectful sin, Heb. 2:1-3.

      b.  Willful sin, Heb. 10:29.

  B.  Younger Son: The Sinner must Change his Heart and Life in order to be Forgiven, Lk. 15:13-20a.

    1.  He did not value his Father’s blessings, 15:13.

    2.  He lived in self-indulgent consumption; not planning ahead, 15:13-14. (Spiritual application, Jas. 4:13-15)

    3.  He “came to himself” – Realized his condition (sin) and changed his mind (repentance), 15:14-17; cf. Acts 8:19-24.

      a.  No longer demanding (15:12); he now humbly offers himself as a servant.

      b.  Godly sorrow…repentance…salvation, 2 Cor. 7:10.

    4.  He went back to his father, 15:18-20a. [An action of faith]

      a.  It is the sinner’s sin that separates from God, Isa. 59:1-2.

      b.  Full repentance changes everything! (“I am not worthy”)

      c.  Sinners must go back to God to be forgiven, 15:20a; Matt. 11:28-30.

  C.  The Father: God in Mercy is Ready to Forgive, Lk. 15:20-24.

    1.  The Father had already done everything for his son, 15:12.

    2.  The father did not harden his heart against him because of his sin against him by squandering his inheritance,

    3.  Saw his son’s condition and had compassion, 15:20; Eph. 2:4-5.

      a.  Mercy: the outward action of pity over another’s distress.

      b.  God’s mercy, prompted by love, forgives the repentant.  -Joy-

    4.  We can do no less and be God’s child, Lk. 6:36 (Matt. 5:7).

      a.  Mercy does not ignore, overlook or endorse sin.

      b.  Mercy urges God’s remedy for sin, Jude 20-23 (22).

  D.  Older Son: Unwilling to Rejoice when a Sinner is Saved, Lk. 15:25-32. Outburst of rage (orge)

    1.  Long-held resentment? Suspicious of his brother’s motives?

    2.  Problem: He focused on himself and not on the lost soul that was restored! (cf. “He mistreated me,” “he hurt others,” etc.)

    3.  Perception is NOT reality; cf. 15:28-31. He completely misjudged his brother’s conversion and his father’s rejoicing.

    4.  We must have a heart of forgiveness, Col. 3:12-13.

      a.  Ready to forgive, like God, cf. Psa. 86:5; 130:7-8.

      b.  So that, when sinners repent, we rejoice, Lk. 23:34; 15:7.



1.  Which one of the characters in these parables describes you?

  a.  We all have sinned, so we all need God’s mercy. (Rom. 3:23)

  b.  We all must be humble, repent and go to God. (Acts 2:37-38)

  c.  We dare not resist heaven’s joy over the sinner’s salvation.

2.  Keep a heart of forgiveness so that when a sinner seeks your mercy you will give it – just as God gives it.