“Word for Today” – Luke 15 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

September 7, 2009 at 4:45 am 1 comment

Ramen Little Debbie 1When I was in college, I, like most young men my age, subsisted on a steady diet of Ramen Noodles and Little Debbie Snack Cakes.  After all, Ramen requires only a little bit of hot water before it congeals into a delectable feast and Little Debbie is always good for a delicious dessert.  Her Nutty Bars are the best.  Perhaps most important to me, however, was the fact that these two so-called “food” products were, for all intensive purposes, non-perishable.  Yes, they came with “sell-by” dates on their packaging, but these dates were usually years away.  As the prophet Isaiah has foretold, “The grass withereth and the flowers falleth, but Ramen and Little Debbie endureth forever” (Isaiah 40:8).  Hmmm.  Perhaps I mistranslated the Hebrew there.  The point being that since these foods were nearly non-perishable, I never had to hurry and scarf down these products.  I could buy them in bulk and then save them indefinitely – even from one year to the next if I wanted to.

What Ramen Noodles and Little Debbie Snack Cakes are, people are not.  People, unlike food products packed with preservatives, are perishable.  Perhaps an ancient inscription on a Thracian sarcophagus discovered in the early twentieth century says it best:  “Whenever this night might come, I will wholly perish.”  People perish.  So says the sarcophagus which now holds the remains of a perished person.  Notably, the Greek word for “perish” in this inscription is apollumi, which, consequently, leads us to our text for today from Luke 15.

In today’s chapter, Jesus tells three stories of things which are “lost.”  But they are actually more than merely lost.  They are “perishing.”  For the Greek word that Jesus uses here for “lost” is apollumi.  Thus, Jesus speaks of not just a lost sheep, but of a perishing one (cf. verses 4-7).  And a woman does not just search for her lost coin, she searches for her perishing coin (cf. verses 8-10).  And when an ungrateful son demands his inheritance from his father so that he can squander it on wild living, he is not just a lost soul, he is a perishing one (cf. verses 11-24).

It is this final story which I find especially fascinating.  For Jesus’ first two stories are more allegorical.  That is, they are stories of animals and things which symbolize people.  Jesus’ final story, however, is more explicit and straightly told.  Jesus flatly says that people can and do perish.  And yet, this final story is not so much about a perishing son as it is about the father who finds him.

After this perishing son squanders his inheritance and hits a financial, moral, emotional, and spiritual bottom, he says to himself:

“How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.” So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. (verses 17-20).

“But while he was still a long way off…” This is the key to understanding Jesus’ story.  The father does not wait for his perishing son to draw near to him so that he can breathe new life into his shattered existence; rather, he chases after him while he is still a long way off – while he is still perishing.

The father in this story, of course, is Christ himself.  And the son is us.  We are perishing.  We are perishing because of our sin.  And if you doubt this, your sarcophagus will confirm this truth soon enough.  But Jesus is in the business of rescuing perishing people.  He is in the business of saving people, even when they are still a long way off from him.

Today, take a brief account of what sins enslave you.  Then remember that these wicked things are “destined to perish” (Colossians 2:22), and so repent of them so that you might not be doomed to destruction (cf. Matthew 10:28).  For it is God’s will that “none should perish” (2 Peter 3:9).  That is why God sent his Son to an earth and a sinful people a long way off – so that we might not perish, but have eternal life.  And that’s a promise not even a sarcophagus can sever.

Entry filed under: Word for Today.

“Word for Today” – Luke 14 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com “Word for Today” – Luke 16 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Darvin Dieringer  |  September 7, 2009 at 10:17 am

    Thank you for this awesome message!!!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

Follow Zach

Enter your email address to subscribe to Pastor Zach's blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,141 other subscribers

%d bloggers like this: