God, wherever there is resentment or shame in my life, may they disappear in the light of Your love.
Read LUKE 15:11–32
 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons.  The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.  “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.  After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need.  So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs.  He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.  “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!  I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.  I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’  So he got up and went to his father. “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.  “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’  “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.  Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate.  For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.  “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing.  So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on.  ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’  “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him.  But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.  But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’  “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.  But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.'” Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectWhat was out of the ordinary in the story?
Jesus continues to encourage the Pharisees to see things differently. Here, in one of his best-known stories, the point is even clearer. Familiarity with the story can mean that we miss some aspects. The younger son does the unthinkable. No one in his society would have dared to ask what he asked (12). His later behavior isn’t any better (13). And then when he decides to go back as a hired servant he is taking the lowest role and one with less security than a slave. The father does the unthinkable. Going along with the original request broke all the rules. Forgiving and welcoming the son back shows a depth of love that would have been totally unexpected. The elder son, on the other hand, behaves in a way that we might expect. The Pharisees would have understood his resentment—and so can we. It does seem unjust. That’s just the point. Grace, love and forgiveness don’t work along lines of justice. They are free, generous and undeserved. The Pharisees—who would have seen themselves in the older son—expected people to get what they deserved. Jesus says, “God delights in giving people what they don’t deserve—let’s join in heaven’s party.”
Ask God to reveal if you have the attitude of the older brother toward anyone in your life. Then talk to him about it.
God, teach me to show the same generous and open-handed love that You have shown to me.
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