All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
Let’s take time today to think about the older son in this parable. This son never leaves the family farm or breaks any rules, but he breaks the father’s heart. While the father celebrates the restoration of his younger son, the older son’s heart simmers with anger and bitterness. The father goes out to his older son and tries to reason with him.
Our view of sin can be too limited. We label the younger son as a sinner while the older son strikes us as a deserving saint, the kind of hardworking person God would be pleased with and would want us to be like.
That was Jesus’ second main point in this story. Everyone thought that God wanted people to be like the teachers of the law and the Pharisees—“good,” hardworking people.
But grace is unearned favor. The Pharisees lived often graceless lives, so focused on rules that they no longer experienced the Father’s love. They kept all kinds of rules but broke God’s heart in their judgmentalism of others.
The older son is just as much a sinner as the younger, and the prodigal Father offers him the same grace. Jesus died for all kinds of sinners.
If you are slaving away for God’s favor, cone inside, accept the gift of Christ, and celebrate grace. There is plenty of room at the banquet for you!
Forgive us, Lord, when we turn religion into rules instead of a relationship with you. Fill us with your forgiveness and love for everyone. In Jesus, Amen.
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