Fourth Sunday in Lent
Fourth Sunday in Lent “C”
14 March 2010
St. Luke 15:1-3, 11-32
Two sons! Big time sinner sons! Really naughty.
The younger’s – an out in the open for all to see naughtiness. Demanded that his father put his will into effect. That the old man drop dead legally right there on the spot! Dad was as good as dead to him. So selfish that the boy couldn’t wait for the old man to die. So he demanded his share of Daddy’s life. Cashed in his inheritance. Then blew it all in a far away country. Sows all his wild oats in one full swoop. You know, the kind of wild living or debauched sinning that might even make Tiger Woods or former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer blush. And his life is in shambles. Totally ruined.
The older son’s – a hidden naughtiness that leaks out only at the end. Really never loved his father. Couldn’t stand his younger brother. A relentless scorekeeper. A never-ending bookkeeper. “I always!” “You never!” Seeing his father as only a harsh taskmaster. A tyrant. That’s always a recipe for disaster in any family.
When you’ve been sinned against big time, it hurts. But when your own flesh and blood do it and do it with gusto, then it is pure agony! Intense anguish, pain, and distress.
The sons deserve to be thrown out of the family. To be stripped of their son ship and sold into slavery. The father has every right to disown these two boys and treat them as nothings. Like they don’t even exist. After all, that’s essentially what they wanted anyway.
But what does the father do? Does he treat them as they deserve? Incredibly no! He does the unthinkable. The outrageously joyful. His cup of tea is going after sinners. To rescue them. To save them. To treat them as His sons. And to live together as a family.
With the younger — the father proceeds straight to sprinting, hugs, kisses, and resurrection! Quick! The ring! The robe! The sandals! The fattened calf! Won’t treat his son as a hired man. That’s simply out of the question. He’s his son – with the full rights of a son — no matter what. Oh yes, the boy sinned against heaven – against God – and against his father. Big time. But all is forgiven. The father, not the boy calls the shots when it comes to reconciliation. And raising a dead son to life and throwing a fabulous party to celebrate is his way of spending an afternoon!
And then the father goes after his older son — Mr. Respectability – Mr. Record Keeper – Mr. Golden Stars of Sunday School Attendance – Mr. I Got Confirmed – Mr. Someone Has To Promote Some Responsibility Around Here — who has oodles and oodles of scorecards on himself and everybody else under the sun.
But the older brother hasn’t come to his senses. He refuses to be dead so that he can be raised. He refuses to be lost so that he can be found. Listen again to how it goes: “Look here old man! I’ve served you all my life. I’ve done everything you’ve ever wanted. And what have you given me? Nothing! Not even one party for me and my friends EVER! But when this prodigal son of yours who ran away with your living and wasted it all on steamy one night stands with torrid bar pickups – when he comes traipsing home – you roll out the red carpet! Leave it to you Father to do something so stupid and irresponsible!”
But even then the Father doesn’t give up. “My son.” Huge! Could have easily said, “You little creep! Get out of my sight! I never want to see you again!” But no, instead, “My child.” He seeks out his dead and lost son. He speaks a gentle rebuke to bring him to his senses. “My son, you’ve always been with me. And everything that I have is yours. Die to your scorekeeping. Give up on this ‘I always!’ and ‘You never!’ for that’s all a bunch of bunk. Come inside. Join the party. Repent. Come back home. All is forgiven!”
So too for you. All is forgiven. Jesus has come for naughty sinners like you and me. He does the reconciliation job. He dies. Does a Good Friday. For you. To bring you into His Father’s family. As the Father’s beloved sons and daughters.
What are your sins? Are yours like the young boy? Have you run away? Sown a lot of wild oats? Treated your Father like He was dead to you? Then realized life at home really wasn’t’ so bad? Expecting the Father to treat you like a servant rather than a son?
Or are you like the older brother? Angry at your Father? “You always!” “He never!” A relentless party pooper book keeper? A self-righteous better than thou? Who won’t die to sin in order to be raised as a new creation in Christ?
I tell you that Your Father does not hate you. He doesn’t hold grudges. He refuses to. He’s always your Father. Because of your brother the Lord Jesus Christ. He never sinned. But the Father laid all your sin, my sin, and the world’s sin on Him. Made him to be sin for you. Your sin is His. His righteousness is yours.
Through His Blood you are reconciled to the Father. Your brother Jesus is the fattened calf, or should I say, the Paschal Lamb, that gave His life willingly for the sake of your salvation and for the joy of living in the Father’s house with all your brothers and sisters in Christ.
In the Name of Jesus.