“God Doesn’t Play by Our Rules”
Grace or un-Grace
Luke 15:1-3, 11-32
The Pharisees and the teachers of the law are represented by the older son in this parable who “became angry and refused to go in” to the party. They didn’t like the fact that God doesn’t play by their rules. They didn’t like the fact that God rejoices and welcomes ‘sinners’.
The parable leaves the older brother fuming outside the party. What will he do? Let’s look at the ending of the parable.
Far from rejoicing at the return of Israel’s “lost sheep” who have gathered around Jesus, the Pharisees and teachers of the law conspired to have Jesus killed.
But, like the prodigal, Jesus who was dead came to life again; and those He came to save have found new life in God’s loving presence.
So where are we in this parable? Are we inside the party celebrating? Or are we standing outside with our arms folded, refusing to come in because God doesn’t play by our rules?
Who is the real prodigal in this parable?
It’s not the one with the shady past. It’s the one who stays outside, the one who couldn’t bring himself to forgive.
The dead one, the lost one, is the one who stubbornly chooses to remain outside the Father’s party.
GOD IS OUR CREATOR, KING, PRIEST, JUDGE, FATHER, REDEEMER, AND OUR SHEPHERD.
THROUGH HIS SON JESUS CHRIST, HE IS OUR LIFE, AUTHORITY, TEACHER, MEDIATOR, BRIDEGROOM, GOOD SHEPHERD AND OUR SAVIOR.
THROUGH HIS HOLY SPIRIT HE IS THE TRUTH, OUR INDWELLING POWER, OUR INTERCESSOR, AND OUR ADVOCATE.
ONE WHO LOVES AND IS KIND, COMPASSIONATE AND FULL OF UNCONDITIONAL PARDON AND GRACE.
THE FATHER IN THE PARABLE IS OBVIOUSLY OUR HEAVENLY FATHER. HE RESPONDS TO US AS THE FATHER IN THE PARABLE DID TO BOTH OF HIS SONS.
IN A LOVING AND NON-DEFENSIVE WAY THE FATHER PUT FORTH THE EFFORT TO GO OUT TO MEET BOTH SONS. HE ACCEPTED EACH SON IN THEIR VARIOUS STATE OF SIN AND WELCOMED BOTH OF THEM WITH OPEN ARMS.
THAT IS WHAT GOD IS STILL DOING TODAY! EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US, REGARDLESS OF WHAT "STATE" OF SIN WE MAY FIND OURSELVES IN, HAS THE OPPORTUNITY TO KNOW AND EXPERIENCE GOD’S UNCONDITIONAL LOVE, FORGIVENESS AND RECONCILIATION.
DID YOU NOTICE THAT THE PARABLE LEAVES US WITH QUESTIONS? QUESTIONS LIKE: DID THE ELDER BROTHER EVENTUALLY JOIN IN THE CELEBRATION? DID HE GO AND WELCOME HIS BROTHER HOME, OR DID HE STAY OUTSIDE POUTING AND FEELING WRONGED?
THE PARABLE ENDS THERE BECAUSE THAT IS WHERE WE ARE LEFT TO MAKE OUR DECISION TOWARDS THE FATHER WHO COMES OUT TO MEET US AND TO PLEAD WITH US TO "COME IN" AND CELEBRATE WITH HIM.
“…we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and now is found.”