Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 3 * BOOK 15
PARABLES OF LUKE 15
Let’s turn to Luke Chapter 15. I’m still standing on the same premise that the way you can get any sense out of all these parables, and everything that Jesus said, is to leave them first and foremost where they belong. It’s Christ dealing with the Nation of Israel under the Law, and the Temple is operating. Jesus hasn’t said a word about not keeping the Law or Temple worship. Gentiles are not being ministered to. Through His miracles He’s still trying to prove to the Nation of Israel Who He is, as found in John 20:30,31.
However, we don’t dismiss these teachings, as there are great moral lessons found there that we can apply today. But in the flow of Scripture, you must realize that this is all part and parcel of God dealing with the Nation of Israel under those covenants and promises He made in the Old Testament.
In Luke Chapter 15 I’m going to point out something that I think has been totally confused, and I’m going to give a songwriter part of the blame for that. We are going to deal with the one sheep out of a hundred.
“And he spake this parable unto them, saying, `What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness,…'”
According to the song (and I’m sure you all remember it), where were the ninety and nine? “There were ninety and nine that safely lay…” Where? “In the shelter of the fold…” And I dare say just like people have a picture of the Ark as you saw it in kindergarten and in Sunday school, with that little boat with a shed in the middle and the animals looking out (unless they have actually studied those Scriptures), it’s the same way with this parable. The first thing they see is ninety-nine sheep laying safely in the fold, but one is out there alone. Now that makes good preaching. I remember a long time ago a preacher was in my classes and we had taught the flood. I teach the flood as an instantaneous cataclysmic event. Everything just burst! After the teaching, this preacher came up to me and said, “You just blew one of my best sermons right out of the water.” I told him, “I know how you preached it. It starts out by raining, and the water got ankle deep, and they came knocking on the door; it got knee deep and even more came knocking. By the time it got up to their shoulders, they were just clamoring to get in the Ark.” This preacher said, “That’s the way I’ve always preached it.” I said they didn’t have time for that sequence of events, and he told me that he could see that now. But all of us have been given wrong impressions of these events in Scripture. And it’s the same way here. The sheep are not in the fold. They are out in the wilderness.Now continuing on with verse 4:
“…and go after that which is lost, until he find it?…”
What does He do with the ninety and nine? He leaves them alone in the wilderness. I know very little about sheep except what I have heard from others and what I’ve read. But sheep are dumb. You leave a bunch of sheep out in the desert, and in a very short time those sheep are all over the place, and they are lost. They don’t know they’re lost. But the little sheep that’s caught in a crevice some place, he’s just crying his heart out. Why? He’s lost and he knows it. Do you see the difference?
When you try to put that into Church language it just doesn’t fit at all. But let’s leave it with the Nation of Israel and we can see the ninety and nine are the Sadducees and Pharisees and majority of Jews. They were without a shepherd Jesus said. But did they know it? No. They were so self-righteous and self-content. They were just like a bunch of sheep out in the wilderness wandering around, thinking they were alright but they were desperately lost. But the one that knew he was lost that was the sheep that the Shepherd went and saved. Who was indicative of the one sheep? That little remnant of Jews that followed the Lord and became believers that He was the Christ. This very small percentage of Jews realized they were lost and needed the True Shepherd, and let it be known. But the vast majority of Jews went on their merry way not knowing they were lost. Do you see what a difference that makes? It fits so beautifully if you leave it where it belongs.
Remember through the Scripture God deals with Israel on two levels. National and personal. So you always need to look at the Scriptures and ask if God is dealing with the Nation here as a Nation, under the Covenant, or is He dealing with an individual. Most of the time He’s dealing with them on the national level, because that’s where the covenants come in. But an individual Jew can still even today be saved, but nationally, to this day, the spiritual condition of the Jew is blindness.
The next parable of the lost coin also fits only if you leave it where it is. And that’s in the customs of the Jews. What we really have here is ten pieces that are part of a dowry that is very precious to them. Again, you have the same analogy. The woman lost one of those that were hers, and didn’t give up until she had found it. So just leave this parable as a condition of the Nation of Israel, that which was God’s by Covenant promises. But the one that is lost is the one that He brought to Himself, just like He did the little lost sheep. Always remember a lost individual of the Gentile world, you or I, has never originally belonged to God. Remember Ephesians 2:12 “…ye (Gentiles) were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:” But the Jews belong to God under the Abrahamic Covenant.
Let’s look at the prodigal son. I can remember years ago when Iris and I were young and our kids were little, we would be driving home from church, and we would have just heard a good sermon on the prodigal son. But I always had a question. Why don’t they ever preach about that other brother? Well, you see the other brother doesn’t fit. So if he doesn’t fit, leave him alone. But I maintain that he’s in here and he fits. But again, you must leave it right here where it belongs.
“And he said, `A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.'”
Now right here is where you always need to ask a question. Was this our state in our own experience? Had we at one time been a child of God? And then decided that we wanted to turn our back another direction? Of course not. We have always been sinners. And that’s what a lot of people can’t understand. People try to tell me that they have always been a Christian. But we know they haven’t. We’re born in sin! We have all sinned and come short. We weren’t children of God. But in the prodigal son parable they were both children. Do you see how that doesn’t fit. Now verse 13.
“And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.” He just blew all the money he had, and finally ended up in the pigpen. That makes good preaching, but it isn’t good theology.
“And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.” Of all things for a Jew, to end up feeding hogs!
“And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.”
So now he’s destitute. Now he realizes that in himself there is nothing he can do. This is just the point in all of Jesus’ parables, He was trying to show the Jew that this was their state, and that they needed Him? And in the Book of John there are eight signs. Seven of them before Jesus’ Crucifixion, and one after His Resurrection, and all eight of them had a specific message for the Nation of Israel. It would fill a particular need if they would have just rested on the One Who could fill the needs. Now let’s come back to this youngest son. He, too, like that one little lamb caught in a crevice, realizes his need. And he realizes there is only one place he can go for substances, and that is back to the Father. He’s got to come back to the Giver of those Covenant promises, and to the Giver of spiritual life, and so he does. You all know the story, how the younger son came back, and they killed the fatted calf, and was having this joyful celebration when the other brother heard the commotion.
Now let’s talk about the other brother, because he fits. You bet he does. Now let’s look at him:
“Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing. And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. And he said unto him, `Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.’ And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him. And he answering said to his father, `Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment:…'”
What part of Israel does that sound like? The Pharisees. This older brother is typical of the Pharisees in Israel. They had been under the Covenant promises just like the other brother. But they were so self-righteous, and were filled with their own importance, their pomp and circumstance, that they didn’t see a need for anything. Yet when they saw this little element of believers who were embracing Christ as the Messiah, it made them very angry – like Saul of Tarsus, who was a perfect picture of them. They thought they could stamp out the Jewish believers by putting them to death or in prison. That’s the mentality of the other brother. Self righteous! Now let’s read on:
“But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.”
Jesus Himself said (and I’m paraphrasing), “The well person doesn’t need a physician, but rather the sick.” The Apostle Paul makes it so plain when he says, “You can’t be saved, and enter into salvation if you think you can make it on your own. You must come as a sinner.” That’s mandatory. That’s the way God works. But the self-righteous brother couldn’t get that through his head. He said, “I’ve always served you and been obedient.” And now verse 31:
“And he said unto him, `Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.'”
Do you see how that fits Israel? They were under the Covenant promises nationally, and if they would come and believe what God wanted them to believe, they could have enjoyed all the promises He had promised. But in their self-righteous attitude it could never come to pass. Now let’s look at Chapter 17, and a verse that I think has been twisted all out of shape. Simply because the Greek has not been translated as clearly in the King James as it could have been. I still feel that the King James is the best. I never tell people to not use the others, but I just like the reliability of the King James version. Here in verse 21 Jesus is still speaking:
“Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is (the King James says) within you.”
That has thrown a curve at so many. The Greek word here is “entos.” “Entos” is not translated “within” in most places, but rather, “in the midst.” What a difference that makes. As soon as John the Baptist came on the scene what did he start preaching to Israel? The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Why? The King was here in their midst and the Kingdom is centered in the King. Had Israel accepted that, they could have had the King and the Kingdom. It was a valid offer but they couldn’t see it, and rejected it. So instead of trying to use this verse for us today, and trying to teach from what Jesus is telling the Jews about the Kingdom of Heaven being within us, let’s go to the Book of Colossians and see what the Apostle of the Gentiles (Paul), inspired by the Holy Spirit, says about it. First, let’s see why I call him the Apostle to the Gentiles. In Acts 9, Ananias, a believing Jew, has heard about Saul.
“Then Ananias answered, `Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: And here he hath authority from the chief priest to bind all that call on thy name.’ But the Lord said unto him, `Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before (who?) the Gentiles,…'”
The Jews had never heard of anything like this before. The word “Gentile” was anathema to a Jew. Just to say the word “Gentile” would cause a riot. When we get into the Book of Acts, I’ll show you that. Now, let’s stop at Romans Chapter 11. This is Paul speaking.
“For I speak to you Gentiles (those he is writing to), inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles,…” The “Twelve” were the apostles to the Jew. Now stop at Ephesians Chapter 3:
“FOR this cause (Paul is referring to everything he had written in Chapters 1 and 2) I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,” And then in verse 6:
“That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ (not by the Law, or works but) by the gospel:”
Paul only knows the Gospel that Christ Himself revealed to him, and him only, and that is: “That Christ died, was buried, and rose from the dead. I Corinthians 15:1-4. Now to Colossians Chapter 1, and let’s pick up the Kingdom so far as you and I are concerned. The Kingdom was in the midst of Israel, because the King was there. And for the most part, Israel rejected it. A little flock believed, but the nation overall rejected it. They crucified the King. After His burial and Resurrection, He now goes to Heaven at the ascension to sit at the Father’s right hand. So now the Kingdom is in Heaven. Always remember the Kingdom is where the King is. But now be careful, because Paul never, never alludes to Christ as the King of the Church. He is The King, but not our King. Because as members of the Body of Christ, we are joint-heirs with Him. and part and parcel of Him. He’s the Head, and we’re the Body. We’re not subjects of the King, but co-heirs. What a difference! That’s our position. We only find that in Paul’s writings. Here Paul is praying for these Gentile believers in Colosse.
“Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who (The Father) hath (past tense) delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath (past tense) translated us into (what?) the kingdom of his dear Son:”
And where’s that Kingdom? In Heaven. Where are you positionally as believers tonight? Already in Heaven. And look at what it says in Philippians Chapter 3. Remember we have been translated into the Kingdom by virtue of our salvation, based on the Gospel. And here is our position.
“For our conversation (citizenship) is in heaven; from whence also we look for the (King? No. But rather our) Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.”