“But he was angry and refused to go in…” (Luke 15:28a)
Why should he? Go in, that is. Why should he? His younger, kid brother was a disgrace! A problem child. A troublemaker. A punk! Let’s be honest, shall we? If you and I had a sibling that disgraced our parents, put them “on the spot” with relatives, friends, co-workers, their church community, and thumbed his nose at tradition; we wouldn’t want to celebrate his homecoming…Would we?
I mean, let’s face it! When our measuring stick is following the rules, never stepping out of bounds, being the perfect child, how can we accept an invitation to their “coming home” party? If there’s a party to be thrown shouldn’t it be for us? …Shouldn’t it?
Good grief! After all, he was the one that asked for his share of the family wealth while the parents were still around. “Divide the assets dad. I’d like what’s coming to me while I’m young enough to enjoy it”.
Are you kidding me! He was the wild child. He was the one that left the family. He was the one who squandered dad’s hard-earned dollars on reckless, “who knows what” living. He was the one who had the “not a care in the world” attitude until he learned that the world, out there, really didn’t care. He’s the one who bought the false promises, “the pig in a poke!” Why does he get to come back? No questions asked. Where’s the fairness in that! Forget him!
But Grace blazes a wide trial. While the older brother was still out in the fields. While he was yet furious, self-righteous and resolved…
“His father came out and entreated him”. (Luke 15:28b)
I love the word entreat. Scripture says that the while the older brother “was angry and refused to go in” the father “came out and entreated him”. His father entreated him! Entreat is a hope filled word. It’s the desirous ask. It’s the earnest ask. It’s a plea. Hear the words of forever love, of inclusion, of self-giving that the father speaks to the older one who’s out in the field, smoldering... “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.” (Luke 15:31-32)
And so, I ask. Can you and I make room for the “other” one? Can we give a little grace? Can we find a little forgiveness? Can we love generously?
God, the Master of Grace can. And does. Whether it’s the young, impetuous, self-absorbed, “devil may care”, “I don’t care about you”, “I’m doin’ it my way”, stuck on himself one. Or, whether it’s the older, self-absorbed, self-righteous, “I did all this myself”, “I deserve better”, judgmental, stuck on himself one. God gives grace to them both. He loves. Always loves. He waits. For as long as it takes. He runs toward. He’s not worried about what the neighbors think. He comes out. He pursues. He entreats. And he forgives! Each of us. He wants us to come home. To the party. You see, the story starts this way. “A man had two sons”. And we find…
It’s All About Grace!