The fifteenth chapter of Luke could easily be entitled, Lost and Found. Whether one hundred sheep or ten coins or two sons, in each case one is lost and is in need of finding. And, as the dust settles on the chapter, we are left with one lost son standing before his father, but not the one we might imagine. This lost son actually thinks he is found, which is the point of the whole chapter. Jesus is talking with the Pharisees, making a point about who is lost and who is found. And in this particular story the “lost” is found and the “found” is actually lost. It is an interesting dynamic, to say the least.
Which makes the moral of the story this: If you do not know you are lost, then you have no idea you are in need of being found. Thus, a significant part of the spiritual journey involves a continual recognition of our lost-ness. One of the biggest dangers for those of us who have once been found is to lose touch with the ways we are still lost—and they are many. It is knowing our extreme need that makes us aware of the ridiculous magnificence of grace. For even though we have been found, we all still get lost in our lives from time to time. Thus, we are in need of being found over and over and over again. It is a humbling place to be, but a really good place to be. In fact, this place of dependence and need creates some of the most fertile soil for God to do his work in and through us.
The interesting part is that we are not told how this story ends. I guess that’s because we have to write that part. Will we go into the father’s house and join the celebration, or will we stay outside? Will we be found, or will we remain lost? The choice is up to us.