Monday, March 12
Day 23—Read Luke 15
“Son, you are always with me…” – Mark 15:31
Every time I read this chapter, I’m drawn to the closing paragraph, the narrative describing the displeasure of the older brother of the prodigal.
The audience to these three parables consists of both the regular folk and the religious elite. You know them well, but did you notice the crescendo in Jesus’ tales? After celebrating the lost sheep, He says in verse 7, “Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” He says a similar statement after telling the story of the lost coin (verse 10).
There’s a subtle gesture for the pious elect, known for flaunting their sanctified sacredness – better to be inclusive than exclusive.
To make His point, Jesus details His third narrative, both in the restoration and the retrogression. When the prodigal returns and the festivities ensue, the elder brother is furious and confronts His father. Note, he was so angry he couldn’t even say, “My brother”, instead referring to him as “This son of yours” (v 30).
That’s cold, and it’s also overwhelmingly sad. And yet, I confess I’m probably more like the older brother than I care to admit. The elder brother’s response is more than disheartening, it is a failure to hope, to expect the unexpected from the God of the impossible, the God who does immeasurably more than we ask or imagine.
So, who’s on my list of “He’ll never repent.”? Who’s that individual who has wronged or betrayed me, the individual I’ve likely abandoned saying, “She’ll never come around.”?
I confess, as one who’s been with the Father for a long time, my sense of lost-ness could stand a bit of clarity. And isn’t that what this Lenten season is all about? Losing what’s distracting me to find the attractiveness, the lavishness of Jesus Himself and His regenerative grace.