I've been listening to Tim Keller's sermons on the Prodigal Son (Luke 15) for the past week. Today I loaded all of them up on my dad's iPod Shuffle (I am testing it for him :P) and hit the trails.
One of Tim's sermons was entitled, The True Older Brother (Luke 15:17-32).
To give a quick background of the parable, the older brother represents the Pharisees. Tim then pointed out that Jesus is speaking to his enemies (the Pharisees).
This is a transcript taken at around 26 min mark in the sermon:
The very end of this story is wonderful....because we don't just see the father pleading to his older son. We see Jesus Christ pleading with his enemies....to the people who are going to kill Him...and what does He do?Does He say, 'you bast**d!'Does he scream at them? Does he yell at them?Listen to it, 'my son, my child. I know you try hard. I know you work very hard.On the one hand, this parable is a punch between the eye.
You don't understand the very purpose of the Father. You think you are close to God.Don't you understand everybody lost here. You have good people lost and bad people lost. Everyone is lost....He is not pulling any punches. Yet He is so tender. He is so patient.
Jesus didn't fight back. Just like the father react to the older brother in the parable, He pleaded with them. He asked them to come back.
And who else are Jesus' enemies? You and I.
Tim brought Romans 5:8-10
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
Then it dawned on me. I can recall those times when I was the older brother. The smugness of being a Christian. Looking down at those who do not know the Lord. Or at church, looking down at others because they aren't 'strong' Christian. Or using my Bible knowledge to shot someone down to boost my pride. Asking the Lord, why is this person getting xyz when I have been so faithful.
Oh the anger of the older brother. The fury of the older brother. The rebellion nature of the older brother. I was there. I've been there.
And yet, what did Jesus do to me? He didn't scold me. Nor did He punished me. He didn't even struck me down. He didn't ask for me to pay Him back (not that I can). He was gentle. He was patient. He pleaded with me. He even gave me ministry for His Will.
What did the father say to the older son in the Parable?
..you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.. (Luke 15:31b)
Everything the Father has is mine. Wow. Materially I might not have much. But this is the heavenly Father we are speaking. The glorious riches that is hidden in the eyes of this world.
And really at the end of the day, what do I really seek...the reconciliation of a broken relationship with the Father. And Jesus already mend that. He mended it on the cross.
And here's the ironic twist. For God to reconcile us, His enemies, back to fellowship with Him, He had to severed the relationship with His very own Son:
Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46)
When I heard that, I was filled with tears.
How can a God be so generous for the younger brother and the older brother?
It took one righteous man to die for the unrighteous. A innocent lamb has to be slain for the guilt of the world.
And I have the privilege of being in a relationship with a Father that have so much grace, it overflows.
At the sight of the Cross, I see my sins that cause Jesus to bleed and die such a humiliating death.
Because there is no other way.
At the sight of the Cross, I see a reckless God that is willing to do anything and everything to bring me back to Him.
Because He considered me more worthy than all the stars in the universe.
And who am I to deserve such riches beyond comprehension!
Humiliation and affirmation on the cross..nothing else!