Chapter 18: “Rejoice with Me; for I Have Found the … Lost”

The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, (1979), 122–27


Map Chp. 18

The Perean Ministry

Matthew

Mark

Luke

John

Perea

The Message That Lazarus Was Sick

   

11:1–16

Meal with the Chief Pharisees; Man with Dropsy Healed

  

14:1–24

 

Discourse on Sacrifice

  

14:25–35

 

A Series of Parables

  

15:1–32; 16:1–13

 

Discourse on Covetousness

  

16:14–18

 

Parable of Rich Man and Lazarus

  

16:19–31

 

Offences, Duty, and Truth

  

17:1–10

 

Bethany, Judea

Lazarus Raised

   

11:17–46

Jerusalem, Judea

The Plot Against Jesus

   

11:47–53

Retirement to Ephraim

   

11:54

Interpretive Commentary

(18-1) Luke 14:12–24. What Is the Meaning of the Parable of the Great Supper?

“Explication of the parable was left to the learned men to whom the story was addressed. Surely some of them would fathom its meaning, in part at least. The covenant people, Israel, were the specially invited guests. They had been bidden long enough aforetime, and by their own profession as the Lord’s own had agreed to be partakers of the feast. When all was ready, on the appointed day, they were severally summoned by the Messenger who had been sent by the Father; He was even then in their midst. But the cares of riches, the allurement of material things, and the pleasures of social and domestic life had engrossed them and they prayed to be excused or irreverently declared they could not or would not come. Then the gladsome invitation was to be carried to the Gentiles, who were looked upon as spiritually poor, maimed, halt, and blind. And later, even the pagans beyond the walls, strangers in the gates of the holy city, would be bidden to the supper. These, surprised at the unexpected summons, would hesitate, until by gentle urging and effective assurance that they were really included among the bidden guests, they would feel themselves constrained or compelled to come. The possibility of some of the discourteous ones arriving later, after they had attended to their more absorbing affairs, is indicated in the Lord’s closing words: ‘For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.’” (Talmage, Jesus the Christ, p. 452. Italics added.)

(18-2) Luke 14:28–30. “Which of You, Intending to Build a Tower, Sitteth Not Down First, and Counteth the Cost?”

“… converts should count the cost before joining the Church; … they should come into the kingdom only if they are prepared to make the sacrifices required; … they should go the whole way in the gospel cause, or stay out entirely; … they should ‘not … follow him, unless’ they are ‘able to continue’ in his word, to ‘do the things’ which he teaches and commands.

“Lukewarm saints are damned; unless they repent and become zealous the Lord promised to spue them out of his mouth. (Rev. 3:14–19.) Only the valiant gain celestial salvation; those saints ‘who are not valiant in the testimony of Jesus’ can ascend no higher than the terrestrial world. (D&C 76:79.)” (McConkie, DNTC, 1:504.)

(18-3) Luke 15:11–32. Some Comments on the Parable of the Prodigal Son

“I think it is significant that the Lord made it clear in the parable that the younger son had lost much by his wayward course, but in a measure, at least, he paid for it, with his suffering and degradation. Justice requires that. But when the penalty had been exacted, the fond father’s heart was gladdened by the repentance and the return of his son. What an encouragement for repentance! How good to know of the mercy and forgiveness of the Father! Better not to have transgressed, but wonderful to be taken back!” (Stephen L Richards in CR, Apr. 1956, p. 93.)

(18-4) Luke 15:11–32. What Are Some of the Consequences of Sin?

“I have always felt that the Savior intended the father in the parable to typify the Eternal Father of all of us. He knew the rigidity of the Jewish law. He knew what a terrible offense it was to renounce one’s patrimony—an unforgivable offense, I assume, in the Jewish household. So he had this wayward son come back to his father, not to be rejected, but to be received and loved. He did not have the younger son restored to all the privileges he had forfeited. The older, more dutiful son, complained of the feast that had been made on the return of his younger brother, but the father consoled him with the statement: ‘Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.’ And then he repeated to his older boy the words he had said to the younger: ‘It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad; for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.’ (Luke 15:31–32.)

“Every choice one makes either expands or contracts the area in which he can make and implement future decisions. When one makes a choice, he irrevocably binds himself to accept the consequences of that choice.

“Jesus, in his Prodigal Son parable, gives a classic illustration of this truth. You will remember that in it a young man, exercising his inherent right of choice, makes a decision to take his portion of his father’s estate and go and see the world. This he does, whereupon nature follows its uniform course. When the prodigal’s substance is squandered, he makes another choice, which takes him back home where he meets ‘the ring, and the robe, and the fatted calf.’ His felicitous father gives him a welcome. But the consequence of his earlier decision ‘is following him up, for the farm is gone. The “father” himself cannot undo the effect of the foregone choice.’ (Collins, Such Is Life, pp. 85–88.)” (Marion G. Romney in CR, Oct. 1968, p. 65.)

(18-5) Luke 16:8. “The Children of This World Are in Their Generation Wiser than the Children of Light”

On first reading, the parable of the Unjust Steward would seem to be an endorsement for malfeasance in office. Careful study will show, however, that it was given to teach the care with which the saints of God should approach the task of preparing for their eternal future. Knowing that he had but a short time left in his appointed post, the steward wisely tried to secure his future by winning some friends.

“It was not the steward’s dishonesty that was extolled; his prudence and foresight were commended, however; for while he misapplied his master’s substance, he gave relief to the debtors; and in so doing he did not exceed his legal powers, for he was still steward though he was morally guilty of malfeasance. The lesson may be summed up in this wise: Make such use of your wealth as shall insure you friends hereafter. Be diligent; for the day in which you can use your earthly riches will soon pass. Take a lesson from even the dishonest and the evil; if they are so prudent as to provide for the only future they think of, how much more should you, who believe in an eternal future, provide therefor!” (Talmage, Jesus the Christ, p. 464.)

(18-6) Luke 16:19–31. What Do We Learn about the Spirit from the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus?

Gulf between heaven and hell

In the famous parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus we are exposed to two different conditions in the postmortal world: “Abraham’s bosom” and “hell.” The former is depicted as a place of rest, the latter a place of torment. Between the two “is a great gulf fixed” which prevents social interchange between the two. Such was the condition prior to Christ’s visit to the spirit world between the time of his death and his resurrection:

What is Abraham’s bosom? Read Alma 40:11, 12.

What is hell? Read Alma 40:13, 14 and 2 Nephi 9:12.

The Savior’s visit to the spirit world bridged the gulf between paradise (Abraham’s bosom) and hell, making it possible for the spirits in prison to receive the message of the gospel by authorized ministers.

“There was no intermingling by the spirits in paradise and hell until after Christ bridged the ‘great gulf’ between these two spirit abodes. (Alma 40:11–14.) This he did while his body lay in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea and his own disembodied spirit continued to minister to men in their spirit prison. (1 Pet. 3:18–21; 4:6; Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed., pp. 472–476.) ‘Until that day’ the prisoners remained bound and the gospel was not preached to them. (Moses 7:37–39.) The hope of salvation for the dead was yet future.” (McConkie, DNTC, 1:521.)

Gulf bridged between heaven and hell

The Savior’s visit to the spirits in prison was but the fulfillment of his own words. (See Luke 4:18.)

“But now, since our Lord has proclaimed ‘liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound’ (Isa. 61:1), the gospel is preached in all parts of the spirit world, repentance is granted to those who seek it, vicarious ordinances are administered in earthly temples, and there is a hope of salvation for the spirits of those men who would have received the gospel with all their hearts in this life had the opportunity come to them. (Teachings, p. 107.) At this time, as Joseph Smith explained it, ‘Hades, sheol, paradise, spirits in prison, are all one: it is a world of spirits.’ (Teachings, p. 310.)” (McConkie, DNTC, 1:521–22.)

(18-7) Luke 16:31. “If They Hear Not Moses and the Prophets, Neither Will They Be Persuaded, Though One Rose from the Dead”

“Two great and eternal truths are here taught:

“(1) Deity chooses and sends his own agents and witnesses to mortal men to cry repentance and preach the gospel of salvation; unless men heed their message they are damned; and

“(2) Those who refuse to hear the living oracles sent to them in their day, and to believe the recorded teachings of the ancient prophets, would not be converted by a display of miracles that even included the raising of the dead.

“Lazarus rose from the dead at Jesus’ command and mingled again among men as a mortal being. Instead of being converted, many of the rebellious Jews sought to put him to death to prevent receptive persons from believing in Jesus and his divine power. (John 11:1–52; 12:10–11.) Our Lord himself rose from the dead in glorious immortality, appeared to many, and sent witnesses into all the world to testify of his resurrection and yet men did not believe.” (McConkie, DNTC, 1:522.)

(18-8) John 11:1–46. What Is the Significance of the Death and Restoration to Life of Lazarus?

When Jesus received word that Lazarus was ill, he did not depart immediately for Bethany as Mary and Martha had hoped. Instead, “he abode two days still in the same place where he was.” (John 11:6.) Jesus had a purpose in permitting Lazarus to die. Read John 11:4, 11, 15. When Jesus and his apostles arrived, Lazarus’ body had already lain in the tomb four days. The Jews entertained the common belief that the spirit of the deceased lingered around the body for three days, hoping to be able to enter it once again. After that decay began to set in, and the spirit departed forever. (See McConkie, DNTC, 1:533.) Jesus may have had this belief in mind in waiting four days to restore Lazarus to life. According to the scriptural record, Jesus had twice before raised the dead, in both instances soon after the body and spirit had separated. On these occasions Jesus shunned any publicity for what he had done. (See Luke 7:11–17; 8:41, 42, 49–56.)

“But with ‘our friend Lazarus’ it was different. Jesus with full knowledge of Lazarus’ sickness, did nothing to prevent his death; allowed his body to be prepared for burial; waited until the funeral was over and the entombment accomplished; permitted four days to pass so that the processes of decomposition would be well under way; tested the faith of Mary and Martha to the utmost; came to the rock-barred tomb under circumstances which attracted many skeptics and unbelievers; conducted himself in every respect as though he were courting publicity; and then—using the prerogative of Deity to give life or death according to his own will—commanded: ‘Lazarus, come forth.’

“Why this studied buildup, this centering of attention upon one of the mightiest miracles of his ministry? Two reasons in particular stand out. (1) As our Lord neared the climax of his mortal ministry, he was again bearing testimony, in a way that could not be refuted, of his Messiahship, of his divine Sonship, of the fact that he was in very deed the literal Son of God; and (2) He was setting the stage, so as to dramatize for all time, one of his greatest teachings: That he was the resurrection and the life, that immortality and eternal life came by him, and that those who believed and obeyed his words should never die spiritually.” (McConkie, DNTC, 1:530–31.)

In this manner our Savior left his Jewish unbelievers without excuse for rejecting him as the Son of God. He had clearly and effectively demonstrated his divinity in a manner which could not be controverted.

“No question as to the actual death of Lazarus could be raised, for his demise had been witnessed, his body had been prepared and buried in the usual way, and he had lain in the grave four days. At the tomb, when he was called forth, there were many witnesses, some of them prominent Jews, many of whom were unfriendly to Jesus and who would have readily denied the miracle had they been able. God was glorified and the divinity of the Son of Man was vindicated in the result.” (Talmage, Jesus the Christ, 496.)

Points to Ponder

By the use of Three Parables, Jesus Taught the Importance of his Disciples’ Being Concerned About the Salvation of Their Fellowmen

(18-9) The Lost Sheep: It Strayed without Intending To

Sheep go where grass is. It seems apparent that the sheep in the parable was not lost through willful disobedience or careless neglect; it simply strayed away in search of greener pastures and soon was lost.

“I ask you tonight, how did that sheep get lost? He was not rebellious. If you follow the comparison, the lamb was seeking its livelihood in a perfectly legitimate manner, but either stupidly, perhaps unconsciously, it followed the enticement of the field, the prospect of better grass until it got out beyond the fold and was lost.

“So we have those in the Church, young men and young women, who wander away from the fold in perfectly legitimate ways. They are seeking success, success in business, success in their professions, and before long they become disinterested in Church and finally disconnected from the fold; they have lost track of what true success is, perhaps stupidly, perhaps unconsciously, in some cases, perhaps willingly. They are blind to what constitutes true success.” (David O. McKay in CR, Apr. 1945, p. 120.)

(18-10) The Lost Coin: It Was Lost through the Carelessness and Neglect of Another

“In this case the thing lost was not in itself responsible. The one who had been trusted with that coin had, through carelessness or neglect, mislaid it or dropped it. There is a difference, and this is the one-third, which I think applies to us tonight. Our charge is not only coins, but living souls of children, youth, and adults. They are our charges. … Someone may be wandering because of the careless remark of a girl of her age in Mutual (and I have in mind a case), and the president of the Mutual lets her go, fails to follow her next Tuesday night and invite her to come. Another may be lost because of the inactivity of the Sunday School teacher, or the indifference of the Sunday School teacher who is satisfied with the fifteen people there that morning, instead of thinking of the fifteen who are wandering because of neglect.” (David O. McKay in CR, Apr. 1945, pp. 121–22.)

(18-11) The Lost Son: He Was Lost through His Own Willful Disobedience and Self-Concern

“The third parable is the prodigal son, the ‘younger son, we are told, so he was immature in his judgment. He was irking under the restraint, and he rather resented the father’s careful guiding eye. He evidently longed for so-called freedom, wanted, so to speak, to try his wings. So he said, ‘Father, give me my portion, and I will go.’ The father gave him his portion, and out the lad went.

“Here is a case of volition, here is choice, deliberate choice. Here is, in a way, rebellion against authority. And what did he do? He spent his means in riotous living, he wasted his portion with harlots. That is the way they are lost.

“Youth who start out to indulge their appetites and passions are on the downward road to apostasy as sure as the sun rises in the east. I do not confine it to youth; any man or woman who starts out on that road of intemperance, of dissolute living will separate himself or herself from the fold as inevitably as darkness follows the day.

“‘My spirit shall not always strive with man’ (Gen. 6:3), says the Lord. ‘My spirit will not dwell in an unclean tabernacle.’ He who tries to live a double life, who does live a double life in violation of his covenants, to quote one author, ‘is either a knave or a fool.’ Often he is both, because he himself is using his free agency to gratify his passions, to waste his substance in riotous living, to violate the covenants that he has made in the house of God.

“In such cases there is little we can do but warn and plead until the recreant, as the prodigal son, at last ‘comes to himself.’” (David O. McKay in CR, Apr. 1945, pp. 122–23.)

The Disciples of Jesus Today Are to Be Concerned about Their “Lost” Brothers and Sisters

Consider now for a moment the following story:

“A few years ago there appeared in one of our magazines, the story of a little lad who wandered from his mother’s lap in the Badlands of the Dakotas and was lost. As night came on, the mother was distracted and the neighbors alarmed. The next morning, on the public square of the town near there, the sheriff met a group of farmers, teachers, office men, citizens of all ranks. He organized them for a systematic search. Before they started out he said, ‘Little Ronald is somewhere out in those Badlands. We must organize and search every bush, every crevasse, every water hole. We must not come back without that little boy. Pray God that we are not too late.’ They started out that Wednesday, but it was not until Thursday, and at about three o’clock in the afternoon that a mighty shout went up. They had found the boy.” (McKay, Gospel Ideals, pp. 404–5.)

Why is it that people generally will do everything possible to rescue a person who is physically lost, but seldom put forth a similar effort to rescue one who is spiritually lost?

(18-12) We Are Commissioned to Remember the Worth of Souls

“Perhaps we don’t all of us understand and apply this principle effectively, but there are those who do.

“Recently a stake president told of his visit, with others, to a Junior Sunday School class. When the visitors entered they were made welcome, and the teacher, seeking to impress the significance of the experience for the youngsters, said to a little child on the front row, ‘How many important people are here today?’ The child rose and began counting out loud, reaching a total of seventeen, including every person in the room. There were seventeen very important persons there that day, children and visitors!

“That is how Christ feels, and so should we.” (Marion D. Hanks in CR, Oct. 1972, p. 167.

What, then, is your responsibility as a disciple of Christ to help your brothers and sisters? Ponder the following questions:

The Lost Sheep (those who stray away)

Do you have friends who are straying from the Church? What are you doing to see that your influence and testimony is felt by all with whom you associate?

The Lost Coin (those who are neglected)

What is your responsibility toward your brothers and sisters on earth? Are there some within the Church who need your attention? Are there those who could profit from your consideration? Do your present Church assignment and those you are called upon to lead receive more than casual time and effort? Do you make an effort to friendship people at Church meetings and on other occasions?

The Prodigal Son (those who willfully disobey the commandments)

How quick are you to search out and rescue those who have been gone for a time into the world of sin or welcome them back when they return? Do you find it easy to gossip about them, or do you feel a sincere love for them?

“Joy … abounds in heaven over the recovery of a soul once numbered among the lost, whether that soul be best symbolized by a sheep that had wandered afar, a coin that had dropped out of sight through the custodian’s neglect, or a son who would deliberately sever himself from home and heaven. There is no justification for the inference that a repentant sinner is to be given precedence over a righteous soul who had resisted sin. … Unqualifiedly offensive as is sin, the sinner is yet precious in the Father’s eyes, because of the possibility of his repentance and return to righteousness. The loss of a soul is a very real and a very great loss to God. He is pained and grieved thereby, for it is His will that not one should perish.” (Talmage, Jesus the Christ, p. 461.)