GNB 2.41

February 17, 2023


The older brother became angry and refused to go in. The father went out and pleaded with him saying ‘All that I have is yours but we had to celebrate because your brother who was dead to us is now alive. He was lost and now has found himself.’” (Luke 15.28,31-32)

Jesus answered the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have come not to call the righteous. I have come to call sinners to repent [and enjoy the salvation of the Lord.]‘” (Luke 5.31-32)


I have mentioned several times that it would be easy to consider the story of the Prodigal Son to be the story of the Prodigal Sons. In a previous reflection, I said that the older son is a representative figure of a certain culture and climate. His attitude not only betrays the faith he was raised with but portrays the distance from that faith which gives the righteous their true identity. I began this series of reflections, as I mentioned yesterday, in response to the statement “God chases after you.” I tend to hear, listen and respond to most statements about God literally after first. There is power in the word. We would do well to remember that truth in both our verbal and non-verbal presentations. When a mighty one of God, including myself, and a follower of Christ speaks in words and/or actions they are demonstrating the incarnation of that word. Just as John presented Jesus as “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,” so then are we. It is God’s intention that we discover the image in which we are made and set the course of our life to become that living image of Jesus as the Christ in this world. Let’s look at it this way: the calling of Abraham and his descendants was to create a priesthood of “all believers” to bear witness into the world of the singularity, priority and distinctive reality of the One True God. It was not meant to separate “those believers” out and establish a super-culture to dominate the world. Their purpose was to extend the call to choose God over and against all other gods and follow Him all the days of their lives. That “priesthood of all believers” was represented by the Good Shepherd seeking lost sheep, the Woman seeking a lost coin and the sons of the Good Father who allowed them to choose whom they would serve. Jesus was speaking to the very ones who were to have embodied the call of God’s intended identity for them the most. Their embodiment was not meant to separate themselves from the people. It was meant to draw all people unto God. If I were to use the “chase” vocabulary, I would say it in the following way: They were to chase after God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength…they were not meant to chase others away from the only life that truly satisfies.

So, in the story of the “lost son,” it cannot be lost on us that he was the object lesson for the Pharisees and teachers of the Law. They, had become lost to their true mission and purpose. They had become so full of themselves they couldn’t see the how far off course they had wandered. They were becoming lost sheep, lost coins and wandering sons. They were in need of a Good Shepherd, a Faithful Woman and a steadfast Father whose love endures forever. Jesus had come to reintroduce them to that Father and to the life that had always been theirs if they had stayed the course and not wandered far from it. Even in their own teaching, following the wisdom of Solomon, God declared “Train up the children in the way they should go and when they are older they will not wander far from it.” (Proverbs 22.6) But, they were more like the younger son who usurped his inheritance to determine what the “way” was for themselves. They did not trust in the Word by the spirit. They interpreted it by the flesh. They were as much in need of repentance and salvation as the next. Their greatest opportunity was to seize their true mission and purpose and be renewed by the transformation of their mind. They needed to set their sights on the things that were above and not that they were above all things. If they were indeed the righteousness of God, then they had no need for a doctor of the heart, mind and soul. If that was their authentic identity then they were expected to be practitioners of the very faith which God had imaged for them. But, by the time we reach the days of Jesus, they were refusing God and not seeing the very mess they were feeding in and feeding upon.

So, what was Jesus doing? To the ones who understood being lost, Jesus in the Word of God was a beacon in the night, a light piercing the darkness that was covering the earth, manna in the wilderness, living water flowing from the rock of faith, a faithful friend, a conquering hero, a mighty God. To those who did not yet grasp they were lost, Jesus in the Word of God was a questionable father, a terse accountability partner, a face in the mirror, a reflection of a way and truth and life that confounded the wise while enriching those who were foolish to them. Jesus resisted the temptation to be what the “so-called righteous” desired as a reflection of themselves and their comfortable way of life. In response they felt the urge to flee and not participate in the celebration of the lost being found and the will of God being fulfilled.

Mighty ones of God, followers of Jesus who is the Christ, He who strengthens the righteous and redeems those who are afflicted by unrighteousness and calls all of them “His people,” we have so much to celebrate. We have so many opportunities to celebrate in the world today. Are we missing out on those opportunities? Are we so in want of God chasing after us to prove our worth and value that we miss the real value of a life well lived? God does not need to chase after us. God is always with us. We do not need to “chase” after God but “pursue Him in all righteousness.” And what is that true righteousness? Well, to those to whom it was first revealed it was taken to be laws, rules, regulations, obligations, duties, restrictions and fierce obedience to the “task of doing.” Jesus showed them all that “true righteousness” was not about doing as much as it was about being. If we are the image of God’s Word, the Christ of God revealed in Jesus of Nazareth, then we don’t have to do the Law to be righteous, we would follow the Law because we are righteous. Indeed, we are “the righteousness of god” when we abide in Him who abides in us. “He,” as Paul declared to the Corinthian community of faith in Christ, “He who had not sinned was made to reflect the sin that we are so that in Him we might see the righteousness of God and become it ourselves.” (2 Corinthians 5.21) We are the result of God’s pursuit of our coming round to our senses. Whether we learn it the easy way and find following after Him not difficult or whether we cover ourselves up with worldliness and have to be excavated out of the rubble we made of our lives to finally know “in My Father’s House are many rooms and my name is on the door of one of them,” we are called to learn who we are and who we are intended to be: faithful shepherds, faithful stewards, good sons and a loving father.


Father, You are revealing the truth of our real identity in Your Word made flesh named Jesus. We humble ourselves to confess we are not in the image as much as we ought to be. There are still lost parts of us which need to be found. Go with us as we seek the way, the truth and the life which has been given to us so that we may become the righteousness of God and do what You would have us to do with great joy! Amen.

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