Read Luke 15:11-32.
The Bible is replete with examples of people who should have known better—who did know better—but committed heinous sin and yet were forgiven. Take David’s murder of Uriah. He wanted to the cover the tracks of his adultery with Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba, so David has the poor guy knocked off.
Today we read another mother-of-all-stories about scandalous forgiveness and grace–the story of the prodigal son. Of course, you have to understand the context: Jesus is talking with and eating with notorious sinners—dirty people like prostitutes and crooked tax collectors—and the Pharisees can’t stand it. Surely such sinful people don’t deserve grace, do they? So Jesus responds with this story which, though it may seem quaint and familiar to us, was certainly in its original context, downright scandalous.
It the story of a younger son of a wealthy man who decides one day that he’d like to be free of his father, in every way possible. This boy wants to make his own decisions and live life on his own terms. And so he starts getting antsy for His father to croak. You see, he wants his inheritance, but he’s too greedy to wait till his father dies, so instead, he straight up asks for it. He may as well have said, “Dad, I’m tired of waiting for you to die… just give me what’s coming to me.”
Of course, the most amazing part of it all is the fact that the father actually obliges his son. I don’t think I’d be so patient. Yet, the father in the story goes out and liquidates assets–the property he had spent a lifetime acquiring–and gives the boy what he’s asking for. The son then goes off to a far country and squanders it.
This then is the same boy who in the end gets the hug and the kiss, the fine robe and the ring, the fattened calf and the feast. That doesn’t sound right. That doesn’t sound fair. No wonder the older brother complains. But there it is, anyway.
This is the way the father loves. He chooses to forgive and receive back his son.
And Jesus makes it clear that this is also the way of the Kingdom of God.
I suppose any father of little children knows that there can be no other way to love a child. How can a father not love his children unconditionally? Like the day any of your children were born, you loved them wholly and completely and not because of their behavior or choices, and so too God loves us.
On the day you were born-again through water and the word of baptism, you were united with God’s Son. And in Christ you became a child of God. On that day God said, “This I my son whom I love and with him I am well pleased.” Those words are God’s words to us because they were God’s words to Jesus and we are now connected to Jesus, heirs with Him of heaven. Now our lives are lived under the blanket of that love and all forgiveness it entails.
Knowing this, it makes you wonder why we would ever tarry in the far country of sin? Why would we keep going down that path? Why would we ever intentionally choose that which is wicked or sinful in His sight? It would seem to take an especially wicked and evil heart to treat our Father that way? But like the prodigal we do this—so often.
During these thirty days of prayer and purpose, may we rejoice that we are blessed to be part of the family business of God Almighty. If God is the father and we are the sons and daughters who manage the estate, what work has God given you to do? What difference can you make? What can you do to glorify and honor your Father?
Lord, today teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; let Your good Spirit lead me into a plain country and into the land of uprightness. Jesus, You gave Yourself up for my sins in order to rescue me and deliver me from this present, wicked age and world order, help me never to be conformed to the ways of this world. Help me to see the work You would have me do and the people I might serve as You would…