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. ‘For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
Luke 15:20, 24
DEVOTION – JUNE 16, 2019
Luke 15 has always been the chapter of the Bible that brings me back to what I believe in and, maybe more importantly, who I believe in. Jesus is approached by the Pharisees who are upset because of who Jesus is spending his time with. (Pharisees always get upset when you are having a better time than they are!)
Jesus tells three stories: one about a lost sheep, one about a lost coin, and one about a couple of lost sons. I want to look at one of those lost sons and maybe this Father’s Day, we will find ourselves in his shoes.
The first lost son is going to start this story by telling his father to give him his inheritance now. Not when he retires. Not when he is sick. Not when he has died. The son wants it now. And the craziest thing happens–his father does it. He gives his son his share.
Author Carlos Whittaker defines sin as, “an agreement that you make with a lie.” In this moment, the son has agreed that his father’s stuff is more important than his father’s presence. He has agreed that the world has more to offer than his father’s house does and he would rather be there than here.
I can’t help but stop and already see my own discontent echoing the heart of this first son. I have this agreement made many times thinking that this other thing could satisfy me, or if only I was there instead of here, then I would be content.
Henri Nouwen said it best, “I am the prodigal son every time I search for unconditional love where it cannot be found.”
This son’s sin–his agreement with the lie–leads to the place where all sin takes us: isolation. It is in his isolation that eventually leads him back to his father. As he is rehearsing his speech about not being worthy and all that he is going to tell his father, his father sees him. He sees him as if he has been looking every day since his son left, in hopes that maybe today would be the day that his son returns home.
Before the son can even speak, his father has run towards him and hugs him. The son begins his speech and without listening to the lies his son has told himself, the father gives him his identity back. He calls him son. He throws a party. Author Brian Zahnd points out that “the son’s sin never changed how the father saw the son; rather, it changed how the son saw his father.”
Isolation tends to distort our reality like that.
Why is Luke 15 so special? Because it tells us what God is like and it makes the love of God believable. It reminds us about how sin leads to isolation and distorts our view of God. It tells us that there is a father looking for his children and hoping that maybe today is the day they come home!
It shows us what the Kingdom of God looks like, and how much better it is than anything the world can offer. We have parties to throw and prodigals to celebrate, and even frustrated Pharisees to welcome in as well. Because in our Father’s house, there are many rooms, and there is a place for everyone.
Help us continue to find our identity in you. Help us come out of isolation and save us from all the agreements that we have made with the lies in our lives. Help us make your love believable instead of just something we talk about. Let us build your Kingdom and not our own, and let us never question the parties you throw or who is on the guest list.
Thanks for inviting us.
Crossings Edmond Student Ministry Pastor
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