Joy – Part 10

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Luke 15 verses 31-32. “’My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again, he was lost and is found,’”

We are now introduced to the older brother. This man was clearly not charmed by his brother’s return from his wanderings. When he found out what all the feasting (or all the joy) was about, he was angry.

You see, he was like the Pharisees and teachers of the law, in verses 1 & 2. He had not demanded money; he had not squandered his living, nor lived immorally. He had done all that he was required to do for his father. Just like the Pharisees. Every day plugging away, doing his duty, building up his righteousness but no relationship with the father is mentioned.

In fact when his father meets with him the response from the elder brother is one of anger and dismay. He can see no value in REDEMPTION. Only in legal condemnation. He does not have his father’s heart, nor does he see life as his father sees it.

Grace is a hard thing to understand because on the face of if it seems so unfair. That is what makes grace a “scandal” for it dishes out mercy where no mercy is deserved and restores people who are unworthy and rescues lives that have deliberately been wasted.

For some people, indeed some religions, justice and punishment is all that they are concerned about – there is no grace, only as Phillip Yancey puts it, ungrace i.e. the inability to forgive. So here is the elder brother unable to see the miracle of renewal, reconciliation, forgiveness and mercy because he too is DEAD. But like the coin the woman lost (vs 8-10) he was lost at home. How strange this is, yet how true. Our hearts are so biased by sin and selfishness that we can be lost while we are in the Father’s house.

So this brother is as lost as his younger brother was. He cannot REJOICE. He is as dead as he was and the confrontation between grace and ungrace takes place at the entrance to the feast.

Jesus does not tell us in his parable whether the father won his older son over. It is in a sense an unfinished story.

Is it possible that someone reading this has been so wounded in life that nothing but anger and a longing for justice or revenge occupies their thoughts?

If you live in the inner world of ungrace there is no peace or victory for you.

But if you return to the Father, enter the feast and are reconciled to the Father, a new day beckons. Joy will return to your life.

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