7/14/2019 – Luke 15:1-3; 11-32

by admin on July 14, 2019

7/14/2019 – Last Discussion & Wrap-up Audio


I Wish Jesus Wouldn’t Have Said That. 2.

Luke 15: 1-3, 11-32

14 July 2019


The Scandal of Grace/2—Way Too Forgiving.


The advantage of having kids:

  • Humility committee: call yourself a pastor
  • Fashion police: the goatee—that’s not allowed
  • Personal therapist: insanity is hereditary.
  • Reality checker: welcome to the real world…not yours….one day a week/ MMs the rest

I am thinking about calling my lawyer and changing our will.

Speaking of changing the will and kidsà

Today we hear Jesus’ best known, most loved story—teeming with dysfunctional family issues.  This is stuff all of us know first hand.


Five movements:

  1. Young kid brother. Eyes on big one…Las Vegas..self indulgent.

His question:  Can I have what’s mine?

Comes to his senses…His speech: no noble soliloquy but speech to evoke father’s sympathy.

He didn’t understand his dad’s love when he demanded the cash; he wasn’t prepared for the reception about to be received.

We can relate: impulsive, self centered, calculating.  Been there and done that. 


  1. Second father-son encounter. Not a hard hearted brother.  His question:  What’s happenin?  (what have we here?)

His speech:  bitter:  I slaved for you….

Resentful:  you never gave me….

Self-justifying: this son of yours…

He didn’t get it either; affronted by foolishness of father’s extravagance this son excludes himself. 

We can relate:  he has every right to demand fairness. 


Probably no greater problem than sibling rivalry and competition for the affection of a parent.


  1. Waiting father. Center of the parable: man had two sons.  His question:  how shall divide the property?  Lk: his life).  It’s his action that shows the answer:  rapid staccato succession: runs, embraces, calls for robe, ring, shoes, fatted calf. 
    There is no sermon but the extravagant welcome home. 

He abandons all decorum. 

àHis speech: to both sons—you’re in the family because I’m the dad. 

To younger:  all excuses dismissed

To elder: all that’s mine is yours.


  1. Jesus used these kinds of down home everyday stories to point to extraordinary truth. Deep within the heart of human relationships—the stuff we see, experience everyday—beats the heart of God.


And what about God?  Luke tells us Jesus told this story to people who weren’t too keen on the idea of mercy and forgiveness.  They didn’t like the social ramifications of the K of G. 


One thing to theologize about God, quite another to live out the practical implications by actually acting God-like. 


Jesus said God’s mercy is huge—so big as to include everyone.  Sounds pretty nice to me.


The question:  Is God, then, nice?  Niceness is quality most of us pick up in our first and foremost learning academy: our family. 


Nice = nescius = ignorant, foolish.


1993à Marsha Witten, All is Forgiven: The Secular Message in American Protestantism.  Looking at the preaching tradition focused on this one NT story.  Her conclusions?  Grace gets cheapened (eviscerated) because preachers fail to acknowledge the truth of human depravity and separation from God.


The message of creating a sustaining and stable community of faith gets blunted because forgiveness is nothing more than a perception of self interest.  A religious way to say:  it’s all about me.


Those who desire a nice God will always find Jesus and his kingdom offensive.  He is about the task of righteousness—in the midst of the call for self-sacrifice and renunciation (Lk’s context).  Jesus reveals God’s kingdom is not a program of fairness; but about God doing what he knows best—mercy. 

Dallas Willard: God is going to do right by everybody.


  1. So what happened in story? This is exactly Lk’s point—resolution in hearts and minds of hearers. 


Maybe the goal of the Father’s love is NOT that the younger son will see the error of his ways and come home; or that the father will lavish a welcome.  The climax isn’t even in the storyà it is the community that will be formed when the two brothers are together again.


Anything less will be the same old, same old.  Little bro isolated from big bro, thoughtlessly partying while his bother feels isolated by his own sense of responsibility and all the work that needs to be done.


This is about God and us and why we run away.  God hates sin because of the harm it does to those he loves.

It is testimony to just how devastating the little brother’s actions have been.  The father needs to find the older brother and (1) try to convince him that reconciliation does not mean “no harm, no foul”  And (2) that the old unfair relationship between the two brothers/sons is not the only possible future for the two.


Older brother’s question is pertinent as we look to each other:  And what have we here?   Families busted up; marriage on the skids; kids on a career path of trouble; friendships ruptured, broken, poisoned.  Should we just be nice and pretend this isn’t so? Or is there a word from the Lord about the real world in which we all live?


What makes reconciliation possible?  The Father to his older son:  Your brother as dead…but now is alive.   The past is not the only factor shaping the future of the two brothers.  That is the heart of forgiveness: the past does not have the power in this relationship. 


Here in a single story from the Bible is the practical application of everything we say be believe around here.  This is the Nova values in all their true colors.


The dad holds out this promise: we have a different present and future than anything in the past has led us to expect, one in which we are all together without the old patterns of isolating craziness over and over.


Back in MayàAunt Irene’s cousin reunion.  Why didn’t our priests teach us to be good people?   And that’s had all kinds of ramifications for our little dysfunctional family. 


The fundamental purpose of every family is to prepare, train, apprentice people for authentic human living.  It is to help one another grow into mature emotionally healthy adults—like the father here.  Now that takes extraordinary skill and super human vision. 


But It really takes divine intervention

Jesus tells this story of how a dad intervened in his two sons’ lives to give them a vision and purpose of something beyond themselves. 


That same story waits today for a conclusion in our lives. 

This is called: prodigal son….really prodigal sons,   father…God…




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