I preached Luke 15 this weekend. It’s such a wonderful passage, full of challenge from every vantage point. It’s motivated by the Pharisee’s hatred of Jesus hanging with sinners rather than being righteous like them. Pharisees find greatest personal delight in keeping rules. The more rigorous the better. God finds joy in retrieving lost things. Pharisees keep their distance from sinners to protect their holiness. Saducees indulge in sin to protect their connection with sinners, so they can fit in. Jesus goes to sinners to seek them and call them to a new life.
The son’s request is ultimately offensive: I want you dead, Dad. He trades in his father for himself. The Dad should beat him severely or even kill him (Deut. 21:18-21) Rather he gives him his heart as gives him title to the estate. The son unsons himself completely as he heads off to carefree living. But soon he goes from lavish dining to being excluded even from dining with filthy pigs. What a tragic loss: no one gave him anything. A total absence of grace.
It would be easy to think why he shouldn’t go home. It would be easy for him to wallow in his lostness. “I am no good. I am useless. I am unlovable. I am worthless. I am divorced. I am unemployed. I’m only a burden, a problem, a drain on people’s time and energy. Or he could wallow in victim thinking. “If they wouldn’t have done . . . ” Or he could be wallowing in law: I can’t go home unless I make it up to the family.
The memory of the goodness of home draws him even when he’s completely aware that he is unworthy to be a called a son. Those words, "I will arise and go to my father . . . "
In his younger years Rembrandt was drawn to the ribald life of the son. He painted the younger son if full living in the far country. He had grown up with the father’s voice: a voice is a gentle, tender, quiet like the one Elijah heard on Mt. Horeb. It’s only heard by hearts made tender by hurt or love.
He responded to other voices that are much louder, seductive, promising. “Go prove you are worth something, worth being loved. Find real love in being successful, powerful, popular. Dream of having power, possessions, popularity.”
In the fears of being passed over, ignored, I suppose he developed strategies to protect, promote and defend himself, asking, “Do you like me? But the world answers with “if’s” If you are good-looking, intelligent, wealthy, educated, athletic, keep a good job and good connections, produce, sell, consume much. Living for the “If’s” only enslaves.
What’s going on here at home
My leg is improving slowly. The doctor extended the antibiotics another week to empower the fight. My energy is still quite low. Preaching yesterday just about did me in! So I’m spending my time with leg up and doing work on my lap top.
Sherry is on vacation too. But her activity level is rather different than mine. She painted trim in the dining room and hall, mostly without help from me. I’m very proud of her!
When I preached Luke 15 about a year ago, I projected Rembrandt’s painting, ‘The Prodigal.’ I wish I would have projected the earlier one (which you show above), too. Next time!
The doctor was informed afterward. It’s easier to get forgiveness, you know. We are in the process of revising our web site, so the current one is not up to date. I’ll see if the sermons can be added.
Preaching while still recovering?! Does your doctor know about that? Still yarping for full & SPEEDY healing! Is your sermon posted on the Grace website? Seems like they’re a month behind.