Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32
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Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.
So he told them the parable:
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The parable we hear in today’s text is often called The Parable of the Prodigal Son. And while that is true, this title only tells us half the story. So for now, I’d like you to join me in renaming this story “The Parable of the Lost Sons.” Plural.
Because there are two sons in this story from Jesus.
Jesus, as usual, is telling this parable to answer a comment or question from the gathered crowd. This crowd is filled with sinners, tax collectors, and Pharisees and Scribes.
Two very different groups of people. But both need to hear the truth about grace. And they do.
When Jesus talks about the younger son, the sinful, broken, guilt-ridden younger son, all the sinners in the room lean in. They know Jesus is talking about them. When Jesus talks about the elder son, the angry, resentful, can’t believe grace is being given to someone less worthy than he is older son, all the Pharisees and Scribes know this part is for them.
But no matter which son we’re talking about, the grace is for both. The youngest son is shown extravagant and humbling overwhelming grace. He is forgiven and celebrated for being there. The eldest son is reminded, in the midst of his anger, that grace shown to the younger son changes nothing about the grace that has been with him the entire time.
In this parable – grace looks like a feast.
A feast that isn’t complete without both of them.
So it is true for us as well – whether we feel like the unworthy unlovable son, or the angry judgmental one, the feast is for all of us. No matter what.
Questions to Ponder or Discuss
1. Have you heard this parable before? What have you learned about it before today?
2. Which son do you relate to more in this parable? The eldest son or the younger son? Why?
3. This story is what grace looks like. What have you learned about grace through Jesus’ parable today?
I closed the message with this quote from Glennon Melton: “There is No forgiveness for me unless there is forgiveness for all. Grace is not personal if it is not universal. You cannot receive grace without disclaimers if you do not offer grace without disclaimers.”
Each and every time you come forward for communion you receive grace without disclaimers. This week, take that grace you’ve been given into the world, into this contentious landscape, and offer it to others the same way it’s been offered to you.