Have I mentioned that I am a Jesus freak? A friend that I worked with at Comcast used to call me a thumper. I really can’t wait to meet Him, to thank Him, talk with Him, hug Him, worship Him, live and in the flesh. But you know what amazes me about Jesus, his parables. I have to be honest with you, I’m a little dense (I can relate to the disciples, it took them a while to catch on to things sometimes) in regard to many things in the bible. Things that I’ve read over and over when I hear our pastor or a guest speaker break it down, I’m like “Oh, duh”. Or I’m like “Wow” I never thought of that passage in that way.
Well this happens to me at church often and this Sunday was no different. Did I mention, if you don’t have a church family, please find one. I believe God uses church to help you figure some things out and apply Him to your everyday lives. At least this is my prayer that this is happening in church, although so many people I know have turned from God because of their experiences with churches. If that is you, I am so truly sorry. It’s a shame and that is the subject of a different post, although was somewhat addressed this past Sunday.
So I’ve got to set up the story for you because this is what I love about Jesus. He was radical! Boy, he called a spade a spade but you know he could do it in such an amazing, loving way. Hence, His parables. The text is from Luke 15 and we started with verse 2, but the story starts with Jesus hanging out with the tax collectors and other notorious sinners. Wow, notorious sinners. That’s who Jesus hung out with and I wonder what sins made them notorious? Drugs? Alcohol? Gambling? Cursing? Prostitutes? Murderers? Regardless it was the “bad” people of society. This made the “religious” people complain because how could Jesus be with these people, even eating with them!?!
So Jesus in His awesome way, tells everyone around a story. And what a story it is! There are multiple stories in this parable. The story of the lost sheep, the story of the lost coin, and the story of the prodigal son. The story of the lost sheep is an illustration of someone who may have heard of God and had a relationship at one time with Him, but drifted away. The story of the lost coin is an illustration of someone who just doesn’t know they are lost, until they are found. This may be some who grew in a secular home who knew nothing about God or Jesus, but found Him. They didn’t know they were lost until they were found.
Then the whopper of the parable is the Prodigal son. He asked for his inheritance (before his Dad was dead, yeah rude) and then goes off to a distant land and squanders it all away on wild living. Where he is living a crisis hits, there is a famine and he begins to starve. The only job he could find is that with a local farmer (and he had to convince the farmer to give him the job) and it was feeding the pigs. (Now remember in Jewish culture pigs are a detestable animal) When he comes to his senses, he remembers that even his Dad’s hired workers have enough food to spare. He devises a plan to return home and will tell his father that he screwed up, and wants to be one of his hired hands. So he goes over his speech in him mind, and heads home.
The father actually sees the son from far off and runs to him. The Son starts the speech “Father I have sinned against both Heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.” And before he can even get to the next part of his rehearsed speech the father says to his servants “Quick bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost but now he is found. And the bible says to the party began.
And here is the awesomeness of Jesus. You know is story was for the “religious” people who were giving him guff about hanging out with the low-lives. And here is where the story is directed at them. The older brother enters the scene (after working in the field) and is mad as all get out at what the father has done. He doesn’t acknowledge his brother as his brother but as his father’s son. He looks down on his brother and his father too. He says “yet when this son of yours comes back from squandering your money on prostitutes you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!” The father begs him to come join the party and tells him everything he has is his but that they had to celebrate the happy day. Because the brother was dead and has come back to life. He was lost but now is found.” The Pharisees, the “good, religious” people are the older brother. They look down on people, they don’t hang out with this group or that group because they took like they do, or act like they do and they know the Bible but what they don’t know is that they are lost. They won’t join in the party because they are too good to do that.
You know this really struck home with me. I’ve known and experienced churches and people like the Pharisees. Unfortunately they are still around, alive and wreaking havoc. Jesus himself said these type of people are not of Him. If you’ve been hurt by someone like this, please don’t let it affect your relationship with Jesus. I have to admit, I have been one of these people in my life. I’m ashamed of it, it doesn’t make me proud. Praise God that Jesus makes us all white as snow! I found the ending of the Prodigal Son and how Jesus was really talking to the “religious elite” an interesting perspective that I have missed all these years of reading that parable. The flip-man and I have already applied this parable in our lives in the last two days. I hope you can apply it too! If you have any questions about a relationship with Jesus, shoot me an email or call. I am not an expert but I can tell you my story and point you in the right direction of people who can answer questions and give you more information.
The former Prodigal Daughter and Older Brother! Thank you Jesus!