The obvious part of the story is the younger son. The arrogant playboy who just wants his share of inheritance to go play in the world, this is the scene of the younger son painted from so many pulpits around the country.
He finds quickly that money doesn't last, and irresponsible living leads him to to live in the pig pen. He realizes his father's servants eat better than he is eating, and comes to a striking epiphany, "I must go back home."
I've heard this sermon preached, and rightfully so. The picture of a lost soul returning to the the father. The father's hands are held out wide, as he re-unites with his son. It is the gospel message clear. But what about the older son?
The older son stayed at home.
He worked hard.
He respected his father.
He was the "perfect son"
Yet it was the younger son who garnered all the attention.
So what's with the older son?
What message might Jesus be telling the pharisees through this parable?
Maybe, and this is just a simple observation, maybe the judgment we all hold toward the stoic nature of the older son is just as vile as the pharisees who would never welcome the younger son back to the fold.
Maybe the message of the prodigal, is not so simple as to focus on sinners who come back to God, but rather; Jesus is extending the umbrella of the gospel to all who are willing to come into the celebration.
The Gospel message is for those who wander, AND those who "live right."
Grace isn't intended only for those who have lived a wayward life. NO, Grace is extended to all people who want to come join God's family. And upon arrival, it's our sacred privilege to invite others to come and join the family.
Not to build a club.
Not to somehow claim the number of souls we captured in God's kingdom.
Not to count the number of people we've invited as to make us feel like God needs us.
No, it seems as though God's grace is extended to the sinner and the saint, equally.
He longs to wrap His loving arms around those He loves.
And the celebration begins.
All three parables in Luke 15 end in a celebration, and not just a celebration of any small proportion. These celebrations are being put on by the angels in heaven. And no matter what you think, I'm pretty sure the angels know how to party.
That's for tomorrow.
How should we re-learn how to celebrate in the Kingdom of God?
I'm here to tell you, we ought to know how to party like God knows how to party!!