30th October 2013

The Elder Son: the Mind of the Father

“Now his elder son was in the field; and as he came and drew near the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what this meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has received him safe and sound.’ But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him…”
Luke 15:25-28 (RSV)

There are days when Christians can get to be despairingly aware of sin, hang-ups and inadequacies.  Other times we can find ourselves thinking ‘well, I’m not that bad’, a thought often aided and abetted by observing others who clearly are ‘that bad’. Consciously or unconsciously we give ourselves a righteous pat on the back.

In the parable of the Prodigal Son, Jesus describes the father leaving home and running down the road to welcome his repentant, returning son, as he sees him trudging up the road. He throws his arms round him and immediately orders a banquet to celebrate. But it is not the only time he has to leave the house: he leaves a second time to rescue the son who was with him at home in the first place and who thinks that his brother is ‘that bad’ and that all this rejoicing is totally out of order.

Commentators say that the father running to the younger son was undignified in the culture of the day.  On the Demeaning Scale, is dashing down the road with your robe hitched up more undignified than having to leave a humongous celebration of  joy and dancing and happy laughter to go outside and plead with a supposedly responsible grown-up son who is having a major paddy ?

And which is worst: in effect wishing your father dead by demanding your rights now and leaving home (the younger son), or disowning your brother and despising your father’s wishes and commands, and pretty much accusing him of child neglect (the elder son).

Yet the father comes out and entreats the angry elder son.  Entreating is what humans do to the God of the universe, not the other way round—yet here’s the Father of the all entreating his erring children.

The Father willingly leaves his home for both the self-assessed righteous and the confessing unrighteous. This is the mind of God. He works with patience, he runs with joy, he entreats in humility. That is who God is; in meekness and lowliness he comes out to all of us- saint and sinner alike.

Father of all, we thank you for your unending mercy and love for all your children, to those of us who are ‘at home with you’ and those who have yet to return.

Study by Hilary Buck

hilarybuck1About the Author:
Hilary Buck attends Grace Communion in Lewes.

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion – Lewes
The Priory School
Mountfield Road

Meeting Time:
Saturday 11:00am

Local Congregational Contact:
Hilary Buck
Email: hilarybucksbox@mypostoffice.co.uk

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