June 27, 2015: Daily Bible Reading with Commentary for Luke 15-16
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Context: Chapter 15 contains three parables that all have the same theme: those who "keep" the law never realize they are the ones that are lost! They never repent! The parables gradually become more and more specific. The first parable looks at shepherds, who are considered dirty, unclean, and untrustworthy to Jews, especially Jewish leaders. No doubt they were thinking "how could a parable about shepherds ever apply to me?!" The second parable uses a poor woman who had lost a coin. Money. Something to which everyone can relate! Finally, Jesus uses a lost son, a human, as an example to show that all need to repent. The eldest son's attitudes when the youngest son returned home was the attitude commonly found among the religious leaders of the day, who did not acknowledge the repentance of sinners. In chapter 16, Jesus appears to be shifting His teaching towards the disciples. Jesus gave them a parable about a business manager, who was so shrewd that the owner praised him for it, even though the owner was firing him. The disciples failed to grasp the meaning of this parable as they had no money. Jesus was telling them to use what they had and use it wisely. Jesus also warned that no man can serve both man and money. The Pharisees sneered at this teaching, for they liked money and were only generous when they were being observed. Chapter 16 is ended with some obvious foreshadowing, as Jesus Himself rose from the dead, but people still refuse to believe!
World History: Coins, the dowry for a woman, was traditionally sewn onto their headdress. If the woman only had ten coins, she and her husband were very poor. An eldest son traditionally received a double portion of the inheritance when their father died, or twice as much as younger sons. In this parable the eldest son was to receive it all because the younger son had already claimed his.