A man and his son had become separated and after some time the father realized that he needed to let his son know that he wants to reconcile with him and to reunite. So he put an advertisement in the paper which read like this: John, my son, meet me at 4th and Vine at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday morning.
When the father arrived a little late on Saturday morning, he found 37 boys/men standing on the corner of 4h and Vine, looking for their father……..
As Jesus journeys towards Jerusalem where He would lay down His life for all humankind in order to redeem us and to renew us into the image of God, He encounters more opposition in His calling and in His invitation for all to come to His table of salvation.
Today's lesson (Luke 15) is set up immediately by the first two sentences in the 15th chapter of Luke's Gospel. The outcasts were approaching Jesus to hear him, while the ruling church officials were talking against Jesus and His way of doing ministry. For He was allowing sinners and publicans to come to Him and worse than that, He was eating with them, a practice which was contrary to the rules and practices of the kingdom that was presided over by the Pharisees and scribes.
Jesus came to seek and to save those who were lost and these three stories all address lostness: The lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost boys. In the first two parables the emphasis is on the diligence of the Seeker and of the joy that is experienced when the lost are found, the lost sheep and the lost coin. And the last parable of the two lost boys focuses on the lostness of the boys and on the seeking and gracious heart of our Father.
The verse which best reflects the heart of our Father is Luke 15:20. Here we find the younger boy, who had wanted his inheritance, was given it by his father, went and wasted it selfishly, and went into a downward spiral in which he lost his money, his friends and self-respect. Coming to himself, he remembered his father’s house,
Luke 15: 20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. His Father was seeking his son’s return, He was watching for him, and when he saw him, compassion rose up in him so that against all cultural taboos he ran through the town to meet his son, whose leaving home had become known by the town and community. It is quite certain that the son may not have made it through the town alive if his father would not have run to the outside of the town to meet him. Instead of the expectation of the culture in that the son would be rejected upon his coming back, the Father received him with joy.
Another key point in this parable is the mind set of the son who wanted to return to his Father’s house, and of how he initially had the thought that he must somehow pay for what he had done in shaming his Father’s name and reputation. Consider these verses:
Luke 15:17 "But when he came to himself, he said, 'How many of my father's hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger!
18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you.
19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants."'
20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.
21 And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'
22 But the father said to his servants, 'Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet.
23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate.
We note that the Father did not allow the repentant son to even say the words, “Treat me as one of your hired servants,” but rather received His returning son by putting on his son the best robe, a ring on his finger, and shoe on his feet, the marks of sonship, not of a servant.
God doesn’t have a problem with our weakness to fall into sin, what He has a problem with is our refusal to come to the light in order to receive His Absolution through the Word and to be received back into full communion and fellowship with Him. We do not have to earn our way back, but rather we may come boldly to His throne of grace to find help in time of need.
We heard of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost boys. May the Spirit of God which always points us to the seeking and waiting heart of our Father through Jesus Christ draw us towards the Father's house. There we will find Him waiting with open arms to receive us back to Himself, and there will be a great celebration of joy in the heart of the Seeker, in our individual heart, in the hearts of the community of believers, and in the realms of heaven with the angels and our Father.
May the Holy Spirit do His work in breaking down the walls of our hearts so that we will not be held back by things of the past or even things of the present, but instead that we will respond with joy when we hear our Father ask to meet us so that He may shower upon us His love for us, His grace toward us and His joy in us. He came down to us so that we might be made like Him and in being made like Him we want to show others the heart of God. Lord, open these things to us by your Spirit anew today!!