My son, you are with me always, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice! This brother of yours was dead and lives again. He was lost and is found.
In Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son, Luke holds up not only a model of conversion in the younger son but also a characterization of Jesus’ faithful and forgiving Father. The father in the parable does not wait for his son to arrive home but runs to meet him, embraces him, and kisses him lovingly.
The father never allows the son to finish the confession he has planned, which ends in asking to be a hired a hand. The son’s act of coming home acknowledges his new desire to reconnect as much as any words can say. The father restores him as a son with robe, ring, and sandals and sets a homecoming table for him.
But the elder son resents his father welcoming his brother home. Will he join the celebration as his father urges?
What does the father in the parable tell us about God?
Jesus said to Nicodemus, “God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world but so the world might be saved through him.”
Jesus’ mission is not to condemn the world but to save it. He calls us who believe in him to do likewise. Like Nicodemus, we find this hard to understand. We are accustomed to the harsh realities of our world, such as terrorism, war, collateral damage, market forces, corporate downsizing, torture, and ethnic cleansing. We take the daily condemnation and crucifixion of millions of our fellow human being for granted.
What crucifixions can I or we in our church community help end?
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