Friday, September 7, 2012
It's Not About You 9/7/2012 (rp)
"And he said to him, 'Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has received him back safe and sound.' "But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him. But he answered and said to his father, 'Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends;'" Luke 15:27-29
You may recognize this interchange as what happens at the end of the story about the prodigal son. The larger context here is that Jesus' adversaries, the scribes and Pharisees, were grumbling against him for receiving and interacting with sinners. Jesus relates three stories featuring different views on recovering that which was lost. In this last rendering, he is specifically referring to the scribes and Pharisees in the person of the son who stayed.
Beloved so often we think of ourselves in situations that involve others. When we are learning lessons that will keep us on the path of righteousness, that is a good thing. When we are providing the lessons through our own failures, well, you get the point. The son in this story was focused on the wrong thing. Though his younger brother displayed incredibly bad judgment, he was returned to the family. His return should have elicited joy. Not only was his flesh and blood sibling with whom he had grown up safe, sound and home, the "loyal" son's standing was not in any way affected. He was more concerned about a party than the weightier matter of a family reunion.
This story was a message to Jesus' adversaries. By entertaining sinners, Jesus was doing what he came to do. He was seeking and saving the lost. In this case, the sinners in question were not Gentiles, but members of the house of Israel. Whereas the scribes and Pharisees should have been rejoicing at the possibility of their brethren being saved (something they should have been pursuing themselves), they were focused on maintaining their own standing and being critical of Jesus, the one whose sacrifice would make salvation possible for even them. Let us learn from their mistakes. Sometimes, it's just not about us.
Loving Like Jesus,