I think the most surprising part of Luke 15 is how both sons were so wrong about their father. How did they miss it? Was he normally really mean and strict? Did he change when the younger son left? I know it’s just a story but it’s hard to understand. There was something about the father, some softness perhaps that gave the younger son the idea that he could demand his inheritance without being disowned or taken before the village and stoned… Something that allowed the older son in his frustration to be completely forthright, in effect calling him a bad father and a pushover.

The father’s perfect humility is hard to fathom. To run to the son who disowned you. To break all social norms, to have your joy overwhelm fears and thoughts like “if I don’t punish him… he’ll just do it again!” Why wasn’t the older son invited to the party in the first place? Could it have been that the father was lost in his joy? Was the older son rightfully upset that he’d be left to slave in the fields, when even the servants knew there was a party going on? Maybe the older son knew something was up, but in his pride stayed and worked until quitting time just to see if anyone would “care enough” to come get him (I could see myself doing this).

The Kingdom’s justice seems unfair to us, but who are we to judge? Grace is so offensive. Jesus comes into our lives and we are happy enough when he says to us, “Your sins are forgiven, get up and walk.” But then he turns to the guy who stole from me, the one who insulted me, the one who rejected me and abused me, and he has the nerve to forgive them their sins against me, without even consulting me??

I agree with Albert that some people would choose hell. I think we make similar choices in the present when we choose against community because of our pride. Sometimes I choose to be lonely because I don’t want to seem needy (pride). Sometimes I really want reconciliation but the other party doesn’t seem penitent enough (pride). I want to learn from this or that person but they don’t seem to show me the respect I think I deserve… How many times a month, a week, a day do I choose against my own joy and fulfillment because I am too proud? Is it so hard to think that people, after a lifetime of small decisions to forego happiness and intimacy and love for the sake of their ‘pride’ or ‘self-respect’ or out of mere spite, would choose eternal loneliness and ‘self-sufficiency’? I don’t think so.


~ by justinhong on February 21, 2012.

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