In Luke 15, Jesus is having a conversation with a group of tax collectors and sinners (15:1). As the outcasts of society gathered to hear Him, the socially upright begin to murmur and grumble: Doesn’t Jesus know that these people are unworthy? How can He give them His attention? This context sets the stage for what has been known as “The Parable of the Prodigal Son.” The parable tells the story of a father and his two sons. Though the title may suggest otherwise, the real emphasis of the story is on the father and how he pursues and engages both brothers, though both brothers reject him in some manner by desiring his gifts over him.
The Father loves and pursues not only the irreligious, but also the religious. He does not merely deal with the younger brother, but the older as well. As Jesus tells the story, He is saying to the Pharisees and scribes, “you are the older brother. Come into the party and celebrate.”
The reality is that there are thousands of men and women sitting in pews of Omaha each Sunday who have never truly heard or embraced the gospel of Jesus Christ. Without compromising our call to the unchurched, we want to be faithful to engage the churched as well. The religious need the gospel, those who have grown up in churches their entire lives need Jesus too. May we be faithful to go outside to the younger brother and the older, the irreligious and religious, and invite them both into the celebration of God’s lavish grace.
Reflection and Intercession:
- With which brother do you most identify?
- Which brother do you historically find difficult to love and engage?
- Confess any exposed pride, whether that is the self-pity of the younger brother or self-exaltation of the older.
- Confess any hindrances that you have to inviting both the religious and irreligious into the celebration of God’s grace.
- Praise God that He is a generous Father Who lavishes grace on His children.
- Praise God that He engages both brothers and invites all kinds to His banquet.
- Ask God to soften your heart and the hearts of your brothers and sisters at Redeemer, that we might better model the character of God as displayed in this parable.
- Ask God to grant wisdom and insight to the pastors and elders of Redeemer in maintaining faithful ministry to the religious, irreligious, churched, unchurched and those who may have grown up in church but have been away.