Posts Tagged 'Forgiveness'



Forgiveness

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We’ve all done things we’re ashamed of. We’re all sinners. When we become Christians, we experience God’s forgiveness and we in turn learn, sometimes with great difficulty, to forgive others for wrongs committed against us. Some of us have yet to learn how to forgive our selves. There isn’t a day that goes by that we aren’t all guilty of making the wrong choice, going to the wrong place, saying the wrong things, treating people the wrong way, and thinking the wrong thoughts. No matter what you call all those wrongs, whether they are acted out on purpose or committed by accident, they are most often sins. We sometimes hang our sins around neck like an albatross, and like David, those sins are always in front of us.

The Bible has a lot say about sin and forgiveness, and broadly speaking, it’s best to be honest before God, other people when necessary, and ourselves.  We ought to own up to our sins, ask for and accept forgiveness and move on, secure in the knowledge that God has dealt with our sins as only He can.

As hard as forgiveness—asking for it, accepting it, and even granting it—may be, it is God’s way. Let’s discover what the Bible says on this topic.

When forgiveness is not given, Exodus 10:16, 17

Then Pharaoh sent an urgent call for Moses and Aaron and said to them, “I confess my sin against Jehovah your God and against you. Forgive my sin only this once, and beg Jehovah your God to take away this deadly plague. I solemnly promise that I will let you go as soon as the locusts are gone.” (TLB)

Things were going from bad to worse for the Egyptians in the face of God’s judgment. Feeling the pressure of God’s heavy, heavy hand, Pharaoh summoned Moses so that Moses could go to his God and communicate Pharaoh’s admission of sin. The result, the Egyptian hoped, would be a stayed hand of judgment and relief.

On the surface, this confession appears to be genuine, but a careful reading of Pharaoh’s confession reveals that he wanted God to do things his way; he wanted the “upper hand.” God, who knows the heart of a man, knew what was really in Pharaoh’s mind.

Pharaoh’s “repentance” was one brought on by the fear and terror of his circumstances. It is true that God will allow a sinner to go through periods of trial and testing so that the sinner will be brought to his knees and call out to Him. But this was not the case with Pharaoh. God had allowed the Egyptian’s heart to become hardened; the man was bent on remaining in his sin, therefore God knew the confession was a “mile wide and an inch deep.”  This ruler of Egypt’s subsequent actions showed how little he understood “sin,” and “confession.” He certainly had no concept of what forgiveness requires. God’s dealing with Pharaoh prompts the question: Why would God grant forgiveness when the one asking for it has no intention of changing?

Now, God did grant relief to the people of Egypt, but it did Pharaoh did no good at all.

Forgiveness, for a limited time only! Isaiah 55:6, 7

Seek the Lord while you can find him. Call upon him now while he is near. Let men cast off their wicked deeds; let them banish from their minds the very thought of doing wrong! Let them turn to the Lord that he may have mercy upon them, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon! (TLB)

When should a sinner repent? Right now! God’s time is always NOW. Right now is the moment of greatest opportunity; it may never come again. It could be said that these two verses are the best advice in the entire Bible. It’s not a thought we entertain often, if at all, but the fact remains, God will not always be available. He does not exist to honor the whims of sinful man. God is always concerned with the fate of the sinner, but there will come a time when the hinges on the door of salvation will swing shut, forever.

Now, that’s the plain interpretation of these verses. Adam Clarke, however, sees their meaning in a slightly different light. To him, God needs to be sought after because He may be found. He is near, so now is the time to call upon Him. The sinner needs to repent before his time is up.

Whatever your understanding of this most excellent advice is, essentially sinful man doesn’t have all the time on earth to get right with His God! Nobody is guaranteed a tomorrow. But the good news is that, anybody who seeks after God, turns to God, and repents of their sins, will definitely be forgiven. Of that, there is no doubt!

Forgive yes, and forget, too! Jeremiah 31:34

At that time it will no longer be necessary to admonish one another to know the Lord. For everyone, both great and small, shall really know me then, says the Lord, and I will forgive and forget their sins. (TLB)

Can the Lord really forget anything? Doesn’t that imply some kind of mental imperfection? Not at all! God and God alone may decide what He chooses to remember and what He chooses not to remember. And the sins of a repentant sinner God chooses to forget.

These are some of the awesome features of the new covenant God spoken of in verse 31.

“Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah…” (NKJV)

God can be known personally by anybody without any human intermediary and his sins may be decisively dealt with once and for all.  The new covenant of verse 31 finds is basis in the forgiveness of sins. God is not speaking of a kind of sinlessness, but of a forgiveness of sins that is so perfect and so complete that not only is the guilt of those sins gone, but fellowship with God can be restored to the point where it is as though the repentant sinner had never sinned.

What a relief! We never have to worry that God in a fit of anger will bring up something embarrassing from our past. Our past is under the blood.

Forgiveness with a caveat, Matthew 6:14, 15

Your heavenly Father will forgive you if you forgive those who sin against you; but if you refuse to forgive them, he will not forgive you. (TLB)

Salvation doesn’t depend on anything a man can do; it is accomplished solely by the grace and mercy of God. However, just because salvation and forgiveness of sins are free, that doesn’t mean a repentant sinner has nothing to do. For example, he must believe, obviously. And he must also be willing to forgive others.

This is a constant theme in the New Testament, and it’s a very important one. Consider:

Then Peter came to him and asked, “Sir, how often should I forgive a brother who sins against me? Seven times?” “No!” Jesus replied, “seventy times seven!” (Matthew 18:22 TLB)

Indeed.  The Christian must always take the initiative when it comes to forgiving another.  In Matthew 18, Jesus had been talking about what to do when a brother sins against you:

If a brother sins against you, go to him privately and confront him with his fault. If he listens and confesses it, you have won back a brother. (Matthew 18:15 TLB)

Peter picked up on this and in addition to taking the initiative in forgiveness, he wanted to know just how many times he should be expected to do this. Jesus’ answer is not meant to be taken literally. The number of times you take the initiative in forgiving a person who hurts you is irrelevant because forgiveness is a matter of the heart, not of the calculator. Because we, as Christians, have received so much in terms of forgiveness, our forgiveness of others should be never ending.

After forgiveness comes righteousness, Acts 13:38, 39

Brothers! Listen! In this man Jesus there is forgiveness for your sins! Everyone who trusts in him is freed from all guilt and declared righteous—something the Jewish law could never do. (TLB)

Paul, in his great sermon, pulls out all the stops here and declares the Gospel in a nutshell, as it where. The only One capable of forgiving sins is Jesus Christ. It’s in His “job description.” Forgiving sins is part of His mission to save men from their sins. But there’s more than just forgiveness, which is God’s side of the equation. From man’s perspective, forgiveness of sins involves freedom from quilt and the feelings of guilt. This is what allows a redeemed sinner to have a good night’s sleep! The accumulated weight of past sins is, in a moment, taken away by God’s simple yet profound act of forgiveness. There isn’t a Christian anywhere in the world from any time in history that isn’t thankful for that!

But not only are sins forgiven and guilt taken away, as part of the package of forgiveness is righteousness—the sinner is declared to be righteous! “Over-the-top” is the phrase that comes to mind here. God’s grace is “over-the-top” in regards to what He does for the one who truly repents of his sins.

Paul’s main point in his sermon is that nobody can find forgiveness by simply keeping a set of religious rules and regulations. To the Jew, it was futile trying to find justification through the Law of Moses. To the rest of us, it’s just as futile trying to earn points with God through good deeds or “living the good life.” Now, to some of the Jews listening to this sermon, Paul’s words must have sounded positively treasonous at worst or heretical at best. To our self-centered, self-indulgent generation, they sound puerile.

Forgiveness: something all men need yet few men find, according to Paul, because they are looking for it in the wrong places. The Lord, speaking through a minor prophet by the name of Habakkuk, warned—

Look, and be amazed! You will be astounded at what I am about to do! For I am going to do something in your own lifetime that you will have to see to believe. (Habakkuk 1:5 TLB)

Yes, forgiveness is truly hard to believe.

Forgiveness through Christ’s blood only, Ephesians 1:7

So overflowing is his kindness toward us that he took away all our sins through the blood of his Son, by whom we are saved. (TLB)

Paul is talking about our redemption here. Once we were slaves to our sins and trapped in a bottomless pit of debt to the God’s righteousness, but now we have been set free from that servitude by the payment of a ransom: the Blood of Jesus Christ. Our redemption was accomplished not just by our Lord’s sacrificial death, but by the shedding of His Blood.

Another was of putting it: forgiveness of man’s sins was bought and paid for by Jesus’ precious Blood. But we don’t experience that forgiveness until we respond in faith to the Gospel.

The forgiveness of sins does not occur because a sinful man feels sorry for them or because he regrets  what he did.  Our forgiveness is a work of divine grace through the obedience of Jesus Christ. His work secured our forgiveness.

 

ISAIAH, Part 1

A Great Invitation

Isaiah 1:1—20

Isaiah is the “king” of the major prophets. His writings are among the most profound of all literature, and his prophecies are the most distinctive in all the Bible. Isaiah was a prophet, a statesman, and an accomplished orator. His ministry was extensive, spanning many years and many topics, and it was far-reaching in its influence. The final 40 years of the eighth century BC produced many great men and world leaders, but the greatest of these was the prophet Isaiah. His name means “the Eternal One is Salvation,” and he often engages in a play on words using his own name to emphasize the central theme of his ministry: Salvation by faith.

The historical background of Isaiah can be found in 2 Kings 15—20 and 2 Chronicles 26—32. The first verse of Isaiah 1 gives us the vital historical information that allows us to pinpoint precisely when the prophet lived, where he lived, and, if we are the least bit familiar with Hebrew history, what the conditions were like while he lived and worked.

The vision concerning Judah and Jerusalem that Isaiah son of Amoz saw during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.

We know nothing about Isaiah’s father, Amoz, except that Amoz shouldn’t be confused with Amos, the minor prophet. What we do know is that by the time young Isaiah arrived on the scene, Israel had fallen into degenerate times. His arrival on the scene was just as timely and fortuitous as Moses’ many generations earlier. In Acts 7:20, Moses is called “no ordinary child,” and we can say Isaiah was also “no ordinary child.” In a world that had become dark with sin and rebellion, and full of despair and hopelessness, the vision that came to Isaiah came at exactly the right time. God’s time is always the right time and God always has the perfect way of revealing to human beings both their sin and guilt and His compassion and mercy. Both of these aspects of God are revealed in this chapter.

1. Their guilt

With one startling sentence, God charges His people with the sin of rebellion:

I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me. (verse 2b)

Even though God was addressing His people only, His message was meant to be heard by both heaven and earth. Here we see God, standing up as it were, stating His case before the whole universe against His stupid and disobedient people. God is calling all creation, terrestrial and celestial, to hear His complaint—His lawsuit.

Isaiah pictures God as a father whose children have snubbed their collective noses at Him and gone their own way and are doing their own thing without regard to what their Father wants. God had nourished them and brought them up out of the wilderness and into the land of privilege and plenty. He had given them everything and more, yet without a moment’s hesitation, as soon as they were able to, these “children” spurned their heavenly Father, turning against Him.

We as Christians have got to ask ourselves, Have we not also been the recipients of tremendous blessings, nourished and brought up in the “land of the Gospel light and privilege?” Have we also shunned and spurned God, our heavenly Father?

Let’s think about that as we look at how Israel had rebelled against God.

(1) They were inconsiderate. my people doth not consider. (verse 3b)

To be inconsiderate means to be thoughtless and thankless. The House of Israel had become just that toward Jehovah, their Owner and Provider. It is a terrible thing to become so self-centered that we cease to think about the work of the Lord and stop considering all that He was done and is doing for us. Yet “self-centered” is a very apt description for the average Christian in these days of plenty.

Think about it; what preoccupies your thought-life during any given day? Do you reserve thought about God for just before you drop off to sleep at night, before each meal, and a little longer on Sundays? You may justify that thoughtlessness by saying, God understands I have to work…raise my family…God knows how busy my life is…there are only 24 a day, you know! The thing God understands is that when you spend 95% of your waking hours thinking about your life and 5% thinking about Him, you’re inconsiderate! If you’re a husband, I challenge you offer excuses as lame as those to your wife when she confronts you about never talking to her, or engaging her in meaningful conversation.

When you start treating God as shabbily as that, you are already on your way to becoming a backslider, whether you know it or not.

(2) They left God. They have forsaken the LORD; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him. (verse 4b)

It isn’t much a walk from treating God with contempt and presumption to leaving Him altogether. Their thoughtlessness resulted in a willful, deliberate departure from Jehovah.

When a Christian begins to take God for granted and when he treats God with an arrogant presumption that says “He’ll always be there no matter how I treat Him,” pretty soon that Christian slips into a backslidden state. This is an incredibly dangerous position to settle into, for the backslidden state happens so gradually that when one is aware of it, it no longer matters.

(3) The became perverse. Why should you be beaten anymore? Why do you persist in rebellion? Your whole head is injured, your whole heart afflicted. (verse 5)

The nation of Israel had become a nation of perverts, involved in perversity constantly. From the dictionary:

Perverse: Obstinate in the wrong; stubborn; intractable; hence, wayward; vexing; contrary.

The people were living in a backslidden state, in a state of perpetual rebellion, and they were suffering terribly on account of a lifestyle that was contrary to God’s will. Now that’s perverse, and anybody who prefers to live like that is a pervert.

How that must break God’s heart. Having to chastise His people, yet His people responding with even more rebellion. Here the terrible sadness in these words:

In vain I punished your people; they did not respond to correction. Your sword has devoured your prophets like a ravenous lion. (Jeremiah 2:30)

(4) They had become totally corrupt. From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no soundness—only wounds and welts and open sores, not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with olive oil. (verse 6)

This pitiful description of Israel was both real and symbolic. Physically, they were suffering as a result of sin and spiritually they were killing themselves bit by bit. Nothing they did could stop the national bleeding.

What Isaiah’s people didn’t comprehend was that healing only came from God. When people are right with God, spirits are healed, sin is overcome, bodies and minds restored. No pill or treatment or therapy can heal the total person apart from Jesus Christ. He is the Source of life. Therefore to shun Christ is to shun life and prefer death. That is corrupt! We know how the Lord deals with people like that:

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. (Matthew 5:13)

2. God’s offer

It all sounds so depressing and hopeless. But we serve a God of hope! We serve a God who doesn’t give up easily.

Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. (verse 18)

These incredible words contain:

(1) A startling revelation.

Just when we think there is no hope; when we think we’ve committed the sin that would forever separate us from God, along comes God with this amazing offer. Israel of Isaiah’s day had fallen far but not so far as to be out of God’s reach.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

That’s how God works. He doesn’t wait for us to get right before saving us. While we were at our worst, Christ died for us. Amazing love.

(2) A strong invitation.

God’s call couldn’t have been stronger:

Come now, let us reason together… (verse 18a)

The first thing we need to understand with this statement is that God is pressing His people to make a decision. It’s an invitation, but it is also an ultimatum: repent and be forgiven.

The second thing that strikes us is God’s use of the word “us” in His call. God recognizes and declares our kinship with Himself. God does not reason with animals. He reasons with people capable of reasoning with Him.

The last thing that should be pointed out is the word “reason.” It is a legal word that means “do decide a case in court.” But instead of pronouncing judgment on guilty human beings, our Judge offers us pardon!

How easily it would have been for God to wipe Israel off the map. But He is ever patient, loving, merciful and full of grace. We may be thoughtless, but we are always on God’s mind. God’s invitation is continual; to this day His words resound: Come now, let US reason together…

(3) A precious promise. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” (verse 18b)

God condemns sin and sinners, but thank God that’s not the end of the story. Scarlet and crimson were the colors of the robes worn by the princes to whom Isaiah preached. God’s promise was that, even though one’s sins may be as irremovable the stain of blood, grace could restore purity of character.

God can do that because not only is He the offended One, but He is also the Judge. God’s power is in and behind this great promise; His power can turn the sin-stained, scarlet-dyed clothes that make up our filthy rags into a the white robes of a blood-washed saint!

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)

(4) A condition. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” (verses 19, 20)

This is God’s ultimatum. A lot of us wish God had finished speaking at the end of verse 18! This condition, or warning, cannot be ignored. That little word “IF” is most important and it makes it plain that God has honored the soul of man by giving him a part in his own salvation. Man cannot and does not initiate the call to salvation nor can he save himself in any way, but note this: God cannot forgive an unrepentant soul. A sinner must exhibit repentance—God cannot do the repenting—before God can forgive him.  That is man’s responsibility.

Human beings are always given a choice.  In our day, people don’t like to chose; we like others to make the hard choices for us.  But in the Kingdom of God, it all begins with choice.  God chooses us, and we must chose to follow Him.

But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD. (Joshua 24:15)

Human beings are always given the choice.  Make sure you’ve made the right one.

(c)  2011 WitzEnd

Parables of the Lost, Part Four

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The Lost Love, Luke 15:25—32

Previously, we read of the return of the lost 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(Luke 15:22—24)

Starting with verse 25, the whole tone of the story changes; it is this second half of the story that addresses the immediate context in which it was given. Remember why Jesus told these stories to begin with—

Now the tax collectors and “sinners” were all gathering around to hear him. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”   Then Jesus told them this parable…(15:1—3a)

He was answering the Pharisees’ comments about some of the people in the crowd listening to Jesus’ teaching.   So at the outset of this section, let’s get clear who each character in the story represents:  the lost son represents the backslider and sinner (outcasts of the Jewish faith in the eyes of the Pharisees); the elder son represents the religious Jew—Pharisees, scribes and other devout followers of Judaism.  They were the ones, according to their reckoning, who had never been led astray.

What we notice about the father is that the father’s love for the elder brother was never diminished by the return of the younger brother.  Yet it was only the father who went out to meet the returning son.  We also notice that the elder brother was as much in need of the father’s forgiveness as the younger.  We often overlook the elder brother, but there are some lessons we need to see in him.

1.  He was a worker, verse 25a

Meanwhile, the older son was in the field.

Whatever else this man was, he was not lazy!  Notice that he was working out in the field while everybody else in the house was celebrating the return of lost son.  These were not his fields, by the way.  He was tending to his father’s business.  He was so busy out there he had no idea what was going on inside his father’s house.  The elder son is a perfect picture of the diligent Christian worker, who loves his work so much, he often neglects to fellowship with the rest of his family.  He reminds us a lot of Martha—

She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”  (Luke 10:39—42)

There are those who would rather work in the fields than sit and fellowship with Lord.

2.  He was faithful, verse 29b

All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders.

He may have been faithful to his father and the duties assigned him, but his words betrayed the attitude of his heart.  He spoke to his father abruptly, indicated by the use of the word “Look,” and the word “slaving” hardly describes a loving relationship where he willingly did what his father asked of him.  Yes, he performed his duty, but he was self-righteous about it and viewed it as a burden; something he had to do.  Here is the Pharisee, and here is the devoted Christian who speaks and acts from a sense of duty and takes pride in himself and his good works, even if those good works proceed from heart as cold as ice.  Yes the younger brother was a sinner, but this one is a Pharisee.  It is never duty that compels one to serve Christ; it is love.

3.  He never had party thrown in his honor, verse 29

Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. (verse 29c)

When I read that sentence, I want to shout back at this man, “Did you ever ask?”

In fact, the reason why he never received this was because he never did ask for it, either in his self-complacency or perhaps he never felt like he needed it.  If he had asked, he would have received—

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!  (Matthew 7:11)

It was not his father’s fault that this elder son’s service had been joyless.  John 16:24 makes it clear and puts the onus squarely on us—

Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

How many believers are like this man; struggling in their faith, martyrs for absolutely no reason?   It is honoring to Christ when others look at us and are able to make the same observation the Queen of Sheba made—

How happy your men must be! How happy your officials, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom!  (1 Kings 10:8)

Serving the Lord in misery is not at all honoring to Him.  In the elder son we see two great character flaws:  self-righteousness and selfishness.  These two flaws are very common, since we also saw them in the younger son, as well.

4.  He was greatly offended, verse 28

The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him.

How childish!  The older son refused to go into the party, but the father left the party to come out to see his other son.  Once again we see the great love of the father on display.  Just as he met his lost son, so he meets his disgruntled son.  Was there ever a more poignant illustration of the love God?  His love for one is never diminished when He loves another.

The elder son’s pride was greatly wounded when he thought about the honor being paid to his younger brother; the one who brought scandal upon the whole household; the one who deserved to be shunned, rebuked, and punished for what he did.   And here he was faithful and true, being pretty much ignored.  He lost, for a moment, the love he had:

  • For his father.  His father’s heart was overflowing with joy because his lost, wayward son had finally come home.  The elder son, now the selfish one, stubbornly refused to share his father’s joy.  How cold!  How heartless!  How much like his younger brother, who went out from father’s presence, now this son wouldn’t enter in to the father’s presence.
  • For his brother. If he loved his lost brother even a little, he would have joined in the celebration and rejoiced over his homecoming.  But his love had grown cold, for his father and his brother.  He may have worked and appeared faithful, but it was all a façade, that hid a bitter heart. 
  • For the servants. It seems that the whole household turned out for the celebration and that even the servants were part of it.  The faithful and true servant of God rejoices at what makes God rejoice for God’s heart and the true servant’s heart beat as one.  How can one claim to love God but not love his brother(s) also? 

It begs the question:  Who was the real backslider, now?

5.  He was loved by his father, verse 28b

So his father went out and pleaded with him.

We are very quick to recognize the love the father had for his prodigal son, and rightfully so.  But his love for the one with the prodigal heart is usually overlooked.   Not many  believers physically remove themselves from the Body of Christ, but there are countless believers who, like the older brother, outwardly confess Christ, never miss a service and say all the right words, but live in that “distant country” of sin and selfishness, away from God.  The father was begging his offended son to come and join him in a celebration; to be a part of a family once again.

6.  He was encouraged by his father, verses 31, 32

” ‘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.’ “

His father could have—and some might say he should have—scolded his childish and offended son for his unchristian-like attitude.  Instead, he offers him an inducement he could hardly refuse:

Everything I have is yours.

Like the prodigal son, this one was not treated as he should have been treated.  His father showed him love, understanding, and most of all; he showed him the same kind of grace he showed the prodigal.  And, everything is as it was before the younger son left; the inheritance is still in place.  The father’s blessings would not be diminished because the lost one came home.

Notice how tenderly the father addresses his son:  “My son,” literally, “My child.”  But at the same time, he gently reminds him of his self-righteous attitude by saying “this brother of yours,” reminding him of what he called his brother earlier:  “this son of yours.”

Conclusion

The future of this family is left to our imagination; Jesus does not tell us what ever became of these two brothers.  Really, the story has no ending because Jesus intends for us to see ourselves in these two brothers.  Both part of the family, both estranged to varying degrees, and both in need of grace.

The great lesson of the story of the lost son is that the father represents God in all His yearning, agape love.  The lost son in his honest genuine return represents the backsliding sinner who comes to his senses and repents, longing to be restored to the fellowship he left behind.   They also represent the tax collectors and various undesirables in the crowd that irked the Pharisees but who had found in Jesus a Savior and Friend.  And finally, the older son clearly symbolized both the Pharisees and the faithful, just as the 99 sheep did and the 9 coins did.

(c)  2009 WitzEnd

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