Prodigal God Week 5 – “My son, everything I have is yours…”

What this parable leaves listeners (and readers) with: two approaches to life that ultimately lead to lost-ness, two lifestyles that are both centered in sin, and two sons that are alienated from the father.  So how do we solve the problem of lost-ness? What does it take to reconnect the sons and the father?

  1. God’s Initiating Love
    • The father goes out to each of his sons.  The attempt at reconciliation comes from him and through him
    • We can never find God if God isn’t seeking us.  God’s is the first action that leads to our reconciliation
  2. Repentance
    • the younger son comes back and admits the things he had done wrong.  That’s repentance.  But the older son doesn’t have a list of things to repent.  When he says he’s never done anything wrong the father doesn’t disagree.  But his refusal to repent and accept his father’s invitation keeps him out of the party. What does repentance look like for an older brother?
      • The older brother is morally upright, but he uses that as a means of control.  His good deeds are part of his self-salvation project
        • It is pride over his good deeds that keeps the older son out of the feast: He can’t go in because he refuses to admit he has anything he needs to be forgiven for.
      • Deeper repentance means when there are specific things we need to repent for we do but it also means repenting for the sinful reasons we do good.
        • Below the things we do are the attempts we make to keep control, the tendency we have to put our hope in what we can do instead of God, and our desire to get around or control God to get the things we want.
      • Deeper repentance is recognizing that the antidote for being bad is more than just being good
  3. This one is going to take some looking.  Go read all of Luke 15.  What is different about the third parable in the chapter.  What happens in the first two stories that doesn’t happen here?
    • No one goes looking for the younger son
      • The parables of the lost sheep and coin focus on someone dropping everything to seek what was lost. No one does that in the final parable.  Why? Who should have gone looking? Answer: the older brother
        • The older brother should have gone looking for his younger brother because the only way the younger brother comes back is at the expense of the older brother (all the father has left legally belongs to him)

There is a cost to the younger brother’s reconciliation, but it isn’t paid by the younger brother.  The cost is the older brother’s.  If someone breaks your lamp you can make them buy a new one or forgive them and don’t make them do that.  But if you want light then you’ve got to get a new lamp, so the cost of forgiveness is felt by you.  You pay the price for the new lamp.

Forgiveness always comes at the cost of the one doing the forgiving.  If a wrongdoer has to do something to get forgiveness and mercy then the mercy isn’t real.

We all want the kind of older brother who would be willing to pay any cost to find us when we’re lost, but that’s not the older brother found in this parable.  By putting the flawed older brother in this parable Jesus makes us long for a true one.

And that is what we have.  Jesus takes the role of the true older brother and gives up all he has allow us the opportunity to be found.  The final thing we need to be reconciled to the father is a recognition of what it cost to bring us home. 

  • Selfless love transforms hearts.  It destroys the mistrust of God that leads to the mindsets of the two brothers.

The option before us seems to be to follow God at the expense of our pleasures and desires (the older brother) or follow our desires at the expense of God (the younger brother).  When we recognize what Jesus’ death on the cross means it should change all that.  It allows us to see our worth to God and recognize that the love, greatness, honor, and consolation that we seek is only found in relationship to God.

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