Weekly Bible Reflection
Luke: Signs of the Kingdom
Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity
Text: Luke 15.1-10: "Lost and Found "
Begin by using the Bible Study method as outlined
Have you recently lost something you urgently needed – for example, your car keys or a train ticket? How did you set about looking for it? How long did it take to find? Or, did you eventually give up the search?
A Window on the Text
Jesus is being criticised for befriending ‘tax collectors and sinners’; and not only that, but for treating them with dignity, sitting down and sharing meals with them. In 1930s Germany those who were brave enough to defend the rights of Jewish neighbours were similarly abused as ‘Jew lovers’.
These ‘undesirables’ included people who handled money (bearing the Emperor’s image), as well as collecting taxes for the Romans and, also, all those deemed ‘ritually unclean’ - such as fishermen, tanners and others whose work brought them in contact with blood and animal slaughter. (All absolutely necessary for the good of the community, but Pharisees didn’t want to be ‘contaminated’ by contact with anyone ‘unclean’ by virtue of their trade, so they had nothing to do with them). Once again it is those who are excluded from the mainstream of Jewish society and have to stay on the edge that Jesus identifies with.
In three parables about being ‘lost and found’, Jesus introduces the radical idea of God’s concern for ‘lost people’ (especially those whom society has given up as beyond redemption): the sheep (vv1-7), the coin (vv8-10) and the younger son (vv11-32). This reflects the attitude of God actually revealed much earlier, for example in Ezekiel Chapter 34.
Jesus shows that God not only loves all people, particularly the ‘non-religious’, but actively searches for them, one by one, never giving up on those whom the world may have written off. There are serious issues here for the Christian church which claims to be all-inclusive (of immigrants, asylum seekers, gypsies and travellers, young people, the unemployed, benefit claimants, etc etc.)
Responding as a community
- Which groups of people, seen as on the edge or ‘outsiders’, are today collectively labelled as ‘them’ in your area, without recognizing the individuality of each one as a human being?
- How does our group/church reflect the attitude of Jesus in today’s gospel?
- Have you ever been accused of being a supporter or friend of a person or group of people who suffer discrimination? Is there a cost involved?
- What is the place of celebration or partying when God finds someone? How do you know, how does the church, know - and what do you do?
- Pray for those who are treated as ‘on the edge’ of society. Name different groups especially those whose lifestyle or sexual orientation you find it difficult to accept.
- Pray that we may reflect the mind and the attitude of Jesus towards those whom society ostracises and labels.
Christ’s is the world in which we move;
Christ’s are the folk we’re summoned to love;
Christ’s is the voice that calls us to care,
and Christ is the one who meets us here.
To the lost Christ shows his face,
to the unloved he gives his embrace,
to those who cry in pain or disgrace,
Christ makes, with his friends, a touching place.
[first verse and chorus from ‘A Touching Place’
by John Bell & Graham Maule.]
- The Lord’s Prayer
- The Grace.
The idea of God as the one who searches for people is to be found in the Old Testament especially in the book of the prophet Ezekiel.
Read and reflect on Ezekiel 34.1-31.