This the great “lost” chapter where Jesus tells of lost silver, a lost sheep, and a lost son. While all the attention is focused on the lost son, it’s easy to overlook the audience Jesus was addressing. They too were lost.
Jesus is responding to the Pharisees. And they are represented in the story of the lost son as well. They are the older brother in the parable.
How easy it is for us to fall into the “older brother syndrome!” We look at the sinful and the wayward and we develop a sense of superiority. A sense that we have served faithfully and never broken the Father’s commandments and deserve better because of it.
Though the older son never left the Father’s house, he never had the Father’s heart.
When we think we deserve God’s gifts we have moved away from grace. Pride believes I deserve everything so nothing is ever enough. Grace means I don’t deserve anything but God has given me everything.
God’s gift to us through the birth of Christ reminds us of grace’s reality:
Some say, “No one is naughty. Everyone deserves a gift.”
Others say, “Some are naughty, some are nice. Only the nice deserve a gift.”
God says, “Everyone is naughty. NO ONE deserves a gift, but grace is offered freely to all.”