"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Luke's Jesus & A Favorite Parable

"Luke is preeminently the evangelist of God's mercy to sinners; and his gospel is the one that dramatizes most believably Paul's insistence to the Romans that 'God's love for us is shown in that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.' Like the father of a prodigal child and like Jesus forgiving the executioners who drove the nails into his hands and feet, God does not wait for our repentance; he loves us anyway.

Luke is, in Dante's words, 'il scriba dela gentilezza di Cristo,' ' the scribe of the kindness of Christ.'  Luke's portrait of Jesus is one that has had the most effect on the West; it is, in fact, Luke's Christ that has made an indelible impression on the world's imagination."   (pg. 207)

The author states while Matthew disdained religious hypocrisy as the "one thing that can make a Christ-like life impossible," for Luke this was wealth.  (pg. 190)

In speaking of a sequence of events in Luke's gospel the author writes, "Luke is building up a purposeful sequence, which begins by answering the question 'Who is my neighbor?' and goes on to remind the reader that unfailing kindness (even to strangers)  is possible only if we keep Jesus in mind -- that is, if we pattern our lives on his -- and that such a resolve can be accomplished only if we pray as Jesus did, asking Jesus's loving Father (who is also our Father) to watch over us."  (pg. 188)

Desire of the Everlasting Hills by Thomas Cahill

The Father Lovingly Welcomes His Son Home

11Jesus continued: "There was a man who had two sons. 12The younger one said to his father, 'Father, give me my share of the estate.' So he divided his property between them. 

 13"Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. 

 17"When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.' 20So he got up and went to his father.

      "But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
 21"The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' 

 22"But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. 24For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate. 

 25"Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27'Your brother has come,' he replied, 'and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.' 

 28"The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29But he answered his father, 'Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!' 

 31" 'My son,' the father said, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' "


Lat said...

Really liked the story of the parable.Sometimes it's hard to accept but that's what happens in reality too.I know I've seen it.

I understand the father's answer to his 1st son but do you think it's fair? When someone stays with you,doing all what you want don't they deserve a little more than just silent acknoweldgement? Why wait to show your appreciation?

Susanne said...

Lat, thanks for your comment. No,I guess in our human understanding the father's answer isn't "fair" to the older son. However, the parable was to show God's mercy to the sinners and the older son showed how self-righteous people often act when God demonstrates His kindness to the undeserving.

We feel God owes us more because we've never strayed when God's mercy and grace are what we should truly glory in! We ALL need His grace and should be thankful He is rich in grace and mercy towards sinners because we ALL have sinned at some point in our lives.

Good questions - thank you!

Carmen said...

We just discussed this parable last week at our Chi Alpha Live service. One thing that got brought up was that perhaps there were two lost sons in the parable.

The first son, lost in his distance to the father. He left, went away and was removed from communion, fellowship, and relationship with his father. We can all think if people that we know have literally walked away from God.

We were challenged in the mini message though that perhaps the older son was a bit lost too. He no longer had the heart of the father. What about us? Do we find ourselves without the heart of grace and compassion. Susanne, you know I do. Darn. Here I thought I wasn't so lost.

Better think again. That song that says "Break my heart for what breaks Yours" has become my prayer.

Is it fair, nope. But the older son didn't understand, the party was for him too. It was for the whole family. The family was now restored. He could have celebrated, but he was too busy drowning in self pity.

Having a sister that isn't walking with God, I'm challenged not to be angry when she is shown mercy, but to rejoice that she's accepted the mercy that I myself have experienced.

I like Luke. I think we read the Christmas story from his book most often.

Susanne said...

Carmen, those were really excellent points and I enjoyed reading what you learned in that mini-message. Very true about all of us being a little lost sometimes. I remember a couple years ago when "Give me your eyes" by Brandon Heath was a prayer of mine. I wanted to see people the way God does.

I love what you said about the party being for the whole family since the family was restored. I long for such a thing and will rejoice!

Carmen said...

God also showed me that night, even I'd heard the story many times and seen the parable just prior to it, I'd never really "gotten it".

We have the parable of the lost sheep, and the parable of the lost coin.

The lost sheep, it always made sense to go after the one that was lost because for a shepherd, it's an investment. Part of his livelihood.

The lost coin? Well obviously, when you lose one days's wage it makes sense to look for it. Especially for the woman who thought it might be in the house. In that case, it's not so much lost but maybe misplaced. You feel like it's lost because you don't know where it is. Of course, you're going to look for the lost coin.

Yes, I was always a little leary of lost prodigals. I mean, how many chances do they get? Is there a limit? When does tough love kick in.

God kind of nudged me and said, you get the sheep, you get the coin, how can you not understand how much more important a lost soul is to me.

It's amazing that God is so patient with us. Not just us though, He's patient with everyone. So, I see the stories in a new light and am challenged to "get" it with the lost children.

One of our students in the small group discussion brought up that the Prodigal, younger son was like the sheep. Wandered off and separated from the father. However, the older son was like the coin. Never really truly lost, but misplaced from where he (his heart) should be. Still, even though not so far off, the owner (and the father should) pursue the misplaced too.

Susanne said...

That was lovely, Carmen!! Especially the part about a lost SOUL being of much greater value than a coin or sheep - brilliant!! Thanks for taking time to share this.