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Midweek Devotionals

Published weekly on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays.

Midweek Devotional 11/13/2014

Robert Chen

Dear Church:
LUKE 15:1-2, 11-32
1Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. 2And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, "This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them."
11Then Jesus said, "There was a man who had two sons. 12The younger of them said to his father, 'Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.' So he divided his property between them. 13A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. 14When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. 15So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. 16He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. 17But when he came to himself he said, 'How many of my father's hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! 18I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands."' 20So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. 21Then the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'22But the father said to his slaves, 'Quickly, bring out a robe - the best one - and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!' And they began to celebrate.
25"Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. 27He replied, 'Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.' 28Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. 29But he answered his father, 'Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. 30But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!' 31Then the father said to him, 'Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.'"

Of all the parables of Jesus', none is more beloved than the Parable of the Prodigal Son, as it is traditionally called. Some have called this parable, the Parable of the Prodigal Father, based on the understanding that the Father in the story is "prodigal" (i.e., wastefully extravagant) with his love.


Great stories need very little commentary. Great stories are sufficient unto themselves. Great stories convey their message without a whole lot of explanation.


The power and message of the story are obvious. What's sometimes lost is that Jesus tells this story in response to the Pharisees and scribes' complaint against the tax collectors and sinners.


These characters -- the Pharisees, scribes, tax collectors, and sinners -- are found in the parable. The older brother = the Pharisees and scribes; the younger brother = tax collectors and sinners.


Previously, the tax collectors and sinners were pictured as the lost sheep and the lost coin. Such "lost" people are exactly the type of people that God searches out and when found the response in heaven is great rejoicing.


In this story/parable which is overlaid with greater detail, not only do the tax collectors and sinners show up as the younger brother but the Pharisees and scribes show up as the older brother.


They, too, are objects of God's love. "Son [older brother = Pharisees and scribes], you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours."


The larger point of the story is that the love of the father knows no bounds: he loves both the younger and older. God loves the religious and the irreligious. God is not a hater. (I believe there's a Taylor Swift song about this -- about shaking off the haters -- but I can be completely wrong. This is in lieu of pictures today, the pop culture reference.)


{The week is almost over. Please pray for my recovery from fatigue. The tank is empty. This devotional has come to the end. Peace, power, and love, everyone.}


Let's pray: Father God, we love the way you love. We love the unboundedness of your love that reaches to the religious and the irreligious, that reaches to those in church and outside the church. Your love is vast and searching, ever searching to save the lost and to sustain those who are being saved. We love you. In Your Son's Name, Amen.