Friday, March 28, 2014

I Wish You, Dead! (part 2)

I Wish You, Dead! (part 2)

Luke 15:13-24
And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.  And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.  And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.  And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!  I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,  And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.  And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.  And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:   And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:  For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

As we continue the story in Luke 15, let’s remember: the sinner has no kinship to God whatsoever, doesn't love God, care about God, or want anything to do with God. He wants no relationship with God at all and in fact, he has none. God, in the agony of rejected love, lets the sinner go. Romans 1:24 says, He gave them up, and let them go in the lusts of their own hearts. This is a picture of the youngest son in Luke 15.

The young man squandered his life and money by living a undisciplined and reckless life-style. When all of his inheritance was wasted, spent, there came a famine in the land. They didn’t have help from the government, or other organizations to assist them and without jobs or means of making a living, they suffered severely and some even died. Here is a description of a famine  occurring in the 1800’s from a writer telling of children being sold into slavery to keep them from starving. He speaks of men being found dead every morning on the streets and when the numbers increased, the ruler of the city declared every man responsible for throwing the dead bodies in front of his house into the river. Inhabitants of the city would drag the dead in front of other people's houses and every morning quarrels would ring out across the city as men fought over where the dead bodies really died. 

Small merchants had to keep hippopotamus hide whips nearby to drive off the maddened beggars who would attack them bodily and ravish the little they had in their shops. Small merchants with their wares on the street would throw themselves across their wares as the miserable wretches came by to steal something to eat. Men venturing out at night unarmed were attacked and eaten. Straying animals were killed and eaten raw. Shoe leather, rotten flesh and garbage were all devoured. Families in the village seeing death all around, bricked up the doors of their houses and awaited death in a room to keep their own bodies from being devoured by hyenas. Entire villages were wiped out in this manner. This is a famine.

Something like that would be pictured in the minds of the Pharisees as Jesus told the parable of  the prodigal son. This level of human desperation goes beyond anything that we can conceive––––this is life at its lowest. With all resources gone, destitute, hungry and alone, the youngest son literally hits bottom. He can’t supply what he needs and begins to search desperately for a job–––this is a turning point in his life. God has opened his eyes and he views himself differently than before. This young man, a sinner, with eyes opened, repents, leaves the bondage of Satan behind, and returns home.

The son, the sinner, ready to face the shame he deserves, desires restoration, and a new start. He needs his father and his hope lies in the father’s goodness, kindness and forgiving heart. He's truly repentant and ashamed of what he has done. The father sees him afar off and runs to him bearing unexpected gifts of love and forgiveness. The humbled sinner is received by a loving father and  his best robe is placed upon him. A beautiful picture of the Redeemer’s righteousness, His best, placed upon us, at salvation. 

Thought: The story doesn't contain everything that needs to be said about salvation, but it does lead us to the cross which is yet to happen in the life of Christ. This is the story of every sinner running from God. A story of the outwardly lustful, immoral, self-indulgent, ones who come to the end of themselves, and realize they have lost everything. Nothing has meaning, nothing satisfies, they are just fighting to survive. God wants to reconcile the sinner to Himself, and finds joy in rescuing the utterly hopeless from their sin. This is a wonderful picture of the Gospel, the gift of grace that is provided no matter how horrible our lives have been. May we continuously rejoice in His gift of grace and undeserved mercy lavished upon us day after day.

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