Anglican Morning Devotion for 1 August 2021 Anno Domini
A ministry of the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?” (Luke 15:4; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
“Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it?” (Luke 15:8)
“And he said, A certain man had two sons: 12And 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. 13And 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.” (Luke 15:11-13)
This chapter of the Gospel of St. Luke is much like a three faceted prism through which we have a diverse glance at the Kingdom of Heaven. It is the diversity in natures of lost possessions that all focus on the same mercy and grace that typify the nature of our Lord to seek, find, forgive, and welcome.
THE LOST LAMB: A lamb is near-sighted and can scarcely see clearly more than ten or fifteen feet. If a young lamb lags behind to far he may find himself lost. He may even see a nice green clump of grass a few feet off the trail and, when he comes to himself, realizes his lost state. He can neither see his shepherd nor his fellows. He finds himself running to and fro on the rocks and crevices of a strange land. He knows to do nothing more than to bleat in panic. This is much like the baby Christian who simply does not know as much as he should and is not grounded solidly in Holy Scripture. When such a Christian finds himself lost and confused, his natural response is to pray in desperation. The Good Shepherd will hear and come to the prayer Voice as the worldly shepherd comes to the bleating of the lost lamb. A lamb has less awareness than even a little child.
THE LOST COIN: The second lost possession has no awareness at all. It is inanimate and lifeless just like the sinner who is dead in trespasses and sins. He feels nothing and knows nothing. The woman has perhaps brought a dowry of ten gold coins to her marriage. This is surety for her in case her husband cruelly divorces her. She has lost one such coin. Now the other nine shrink in importance. It is the lost coin that the woman must find. She frantically searches for it by sweeping and cleaning the whole house and going about with a candle to cast light in dark places. The coin is finally found by the woman. The coin, like the sinner, did not search for itself – it was found by its owner just as the lost sinner comes to God at the behest of the Holy spirit that speaks into the dead spiritual ears and hearts of the sinner.
THE PRODIGAL SON: This last lost possession is different in nature from the other two. The son is not a barely aware lamb. He is not an unthinking inanimate object or coin. He is one in full possession of his facilities. He rebels at his father’s sovereignty and request his share of the inheritance well ahead of the normal time to receive it. The father is a wise man. He agrees to the boy’s wishes knowing him well enough to know that he will waste the money. But it is the only way the boy will learn better. The boy goes off to a far country and lives a life of opulence and debauchery. The father is aware all along of his sons wasteful living.
When the boy’s money is all wasted, suddenly, his friends desert him and he attaches himself to a ‘stranger’ of the land. That stranger, like the devil himself, cares nothing for the boy but only wishes to use him. He sends him to labor among the pigs in his sty. It is a filthy life. The boy grows desperately hungry and covets the slop the pigs are given. Now, a bit late, he remembers his father’s house and the plenty of that household. Even the servants dare better than he finds himself today. Remarkably, the Scriptures tell us the boy comes to “himself.” No one separated from God is in his right mind, but when we realize our apostacy, we will come to our right mind and return.
The father does not send for his son for that would be self-defeating. He watches and waits until the boy comes to his senses. He watches that same road by which the boy left months and maybe years before. Finally, he sees a figure arise on the distant horizon. Though covered in rags and filth, and bowed over with care, the father recognizes him as his son. He runs to the boy, hugs him, orders the best robe be placed on him (a covering for his filth, or sins), a ring for his finger (authority), and shoes for his feet. (liberty).
One point to bear in mind is this – the ownership of the Lamb, the coin, and the prodigal son never changed hands. The prodigal was never disowned by the father. He was brought up in his father’s house and should have known better than to leave it. But this is the case of the elect who have security in their Father’s House.