[The following devotional is a part of our 2015 Easter Season Devotional Book “Passion Road.” We will be posting a devotional each day on this blog between February 18 – April 5, 2014.]
Which Seat are You In? by Mark Robinson
Read: Luke 15:1-32
I love OU Football. Several Saturdays each year, I have the opportunity to go to the “temple” of OU football (Gaylord Family Memorial Stadium) to see the Sooners play.
Though every seat in Memorial Stadium is a good one, there are nuances that allow you to have a different vantage point depending on where you sit. If you are down low on the west side, you are close to the action, but you probably have to stand the entire game. If you are in the upper deck on the east side, you have a chair back, but it takes an hour and a half to climb the ADA compliant switchbacks to make your way to the top.
Different seats offer different vantage points. This is a principle that is not just true in a stadium, but also true in life. Depending on what seat you are in, stories and experiences impact you differently. Of course, Jesus knew this. That is why when He tells His parables, many times they have different meanings for different people in His listening audience. This was certainly true in Luke 15 when Jesus tells His famous parables of the lost sheep, shekel, and son.
In the first couple of sentences of Luke 15, Luke lets us know that Jesus was talking to the “tax collectors and sinners,” but also to the “Pharisees and scribes.” To be sure, these were two very different “seats” from which to hear the parables Jesus taught.
The “tax collectors and sinners” were the people everyone thought had screwed up. They were the ones rejected and despised by the religious elite. Jesus tells these parables to them to let them know that God (in Christ) is seeking them out. He is leaving the 99 to hunt them down. He is searching the house of Israel for them because they are valuable to Him. This truth would have been an incredible comfort to the sinner!
The “Pharisee and scribe” were the religious elite, leaders in the synagogue. They were the ones who knew their Bible well. But they were also the ones who had become self-righteous and self-reliant, thus blinding them to their own sin. To this group of people, Jesus tells the parable reminding them that they should be rejoicing, not grumbling, at Christ’s outreach to the broken and bruised. Also, Jesus tells the parable to remind them that their Heavenly Father is concerned for them as well . . . evidenced by the fact that the prodigal’s father is outside the house, talking with the older son (older son = Pharisees), inviting them to come into the party.
- Which “seat” can you most associate with in these parables (tax collectors or Pharisees)?
- What do these parables teach you about God’s thoughts for you?
- Pray and thank God for His pursuit of a relationship with you.