Friday, November 20th Luke 15:20-32

So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe–the best one–and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate. “Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’ Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’ Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.'” Luke 15:20-32

Now for the rest of the story…

While the wayward son is making his heavy footed way home, his father keeps hoping, expecting, waiting, to see him walk down the road. When the moment finally arrives, the father greets his long lost son with compassion rather than a belt. He forgives him even before the young man can deliver his carefully crafted speech. The father throws a big party…and the elder brother refuses to come in.

Perhaps the elder brother knows his little brother even better than his father. He has no imagination problems around “dissolute living” – he knows that the money was wasted away. And he’s angry. He’s angry because he has been the hard working dutiful son and yet his father has never thrown a welcome home party for him. Maybe he has also felt the temptation to go wild every now and again but he always fought that temptation back. For whatever reason, every one understandable, he is resentful.

So the father goes out to the porch for a little chat and a reminder that the elder brother is also loved by the father. A reminder and an explanation of the need to celebrate the dead coming back to life.

Every time we read this story, if we slow down long enough, we will see ourselves reflected in it. We will find one or more characters becoming “us” at that particular moment in life. There are times when we are the wayward son or we can remember those times. Times when we have been the parent of a child up to no good while we stand helplessly by. Or we give help that isn’t helpful. And there are times when we are the elder brother, resentful that we have kept all the rules and it feels like it hasn’t gotten us anywhere.

Why did Jesus tell this story?

To explain to those who were troubled by the company he kept why Jesus chose to welcome and eat with sinners and tax collectors…because they were lost but are now found. The text ends without telling us whether or not the Pharisees saw themselves in the role of the elder brother. But it doesn’t have to tell us. We already know that whether they got the point of the story or not, they eventually got Jesus. But they couldn’t kill the story. They never will.

Whoever you are, let this story become the first day of the rest of your life.

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, your amazing grace comes to us anew every day. Especially at those moments when we are mindful of the brokenness and sin in our lives. Forgive us for those times when we have been the elder brother, resentful at the vastness of your mercy. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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One Response to “Friday, November 20th Luke 15:20-32”

  1. Kelsey Says:

    I can’t even begin to say how much I am in awe of the Lord. I felt the need today to start new, to find my way back to what I need most in my life. What do I find under a search for a daily devotional… A reminder that I am welcomed back. Thank you.

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