Joshua 5:1-7:15, Luke 15:1-32, Psalms 81:1-16, Proverbs 13:1
Today is the 12th day of April. Welcome to the Daily Audio Bible. I am Brian. It’s great to be here with you today from the for the mountains of Georgia, where the More Gathering for women will begin later this afternoon. And we’ll talk about that in a little bit. But before all of that, we continue our rhythm through the Scriptures this year by taking the next step forward. And that next step forward will take us back into the book of Joshua where we have crossed the Jordan River and have planted our feet in the Promised Land, really for the first time. And we can almost get a sense of the wonder of it all, this mythical place that had been promised centuries before has become a reality against all odds. So, we’re reading from the Good News translation this week. Joshua chapter 5 verse one through seven 15 today.
Okay. The gospel of Luke today, Jesus tells three stories, all to illustrate the same point and there’s a couple of things we got a notice. One of the things we’ve got to notice about Jesus is that he doesn’t use shame as a weapon or as a device to control people and that is in pretty sharp contrast to the world that He lived in and the world that we live in. So, we read the 15th chapter of the gospel of Luke today and the whole thing starts out that the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, that the religious people, are grumbling because Jesus is hanging out with outcasts. These are the people who have been shamed all along, even by their own religion and their religious leaders. And on the one hand, these religious people could be like, yeah, we’re kinda shaming them if you want to call it that. What we’re trying to do is call them to a higher standard. We’re trying to pull them forward. And, so, you know we disassociate from these people, trying to show them a better way. And that would be a way of rationalizing it. It’s as a way that’s used of to rationalize it even today. The irony is that Jesus didn’t do that. Rather, He had a reputation for hanging out with them and even eating with them, which is the thing that’s got these Pharisees and teachers of the law up in arms. He welcomes outcasts. He even eats with them! Gasp! Can you believe that a rabbi would even do such a thing, such an unspeakable thing as eat with an outcast? So, Jesus tells three stories - the lost sheep, the lost coin, the lost son. All back to back, all as a response to what’s being said about Him - that He’s hanging out and welcoming outcasts and even eating with them. And you have to love the way Jesus uses stories to unveil a person’s heart and make them look at the whole situation from a different perspective. So, He’s not like, well, I eat with the outcasts because they need me. Nobody else cares about them. Rather, He tells a story to reveal everyone involved, all of the hearts involved and in the process revealing the heart of God. Suppose one of you has a 100 sheep and loses one of them, what do you do, Jesus asks? And, of course, the answer is that you would leave the 99 sheep to go find the one and then you would rejoice and be so happy that you found your lost sheep that you would want to celebrate. Okay. Jesus is telling that story because that’s why he’s hanging out with outcasts and even eating with them. Or suppose a woman was 10 silver coins loses one of them. What does she do, Jesus asks? And essentially what she does is she does everything she can, she looks everywhere and when she finds her lost coin she wants to celebrate. She’s so relieved. She’s so happy that she found her lost coin. And Jesus said, in the same way, so, just like that, the Angels of God rejoice over one sinner who repents. That’s why I’m hanging out with the outcasts. And then Jesus tells the story of the prodigal son. Super famous story. A young son comes the father and says, give me my inheritance now, give me my portion of what you own that you’re going to give me, give that to me now. And the father agrees, okay, and he gives it to him and the kid goes often and squanders everything. He loses it all, right? And, so, he ends up feeding pigs and realizing, if I were a servant in my father’s house I would have it better off than I do now. I’m going back to my father, not as a son, but just asking for a job, because if I could just have a job with my dad I would be better off than I am now. And, so, he goes back to his father. We know the story. The father rejoices and throws a big party and the older son is just ticked off about it. And we’ve heard this story enough to know what Jesus is illustrating. He’s illustrating the father’s heart toward his children. So, the older son is just ticked off about it because he’s like, when did you ever give me some resources so I could throw a party for my friends? I’ve been working for you like a slave. So we have this beautiful picture of the father’s heart to the son who is returning from the depths, the son who was dead but is now alive again. The father rejoices and throws a wonderful party welcoming his son home. So, the son who had never left and had worked as a slave, the problem wasn’t with the father, the problem was this older sons perspective on things. He’s saying, I have been faithful to you, I have worked diligently for you, I have never left you, and that’s not the point. In Jesus story the father says, son you are always here with me, everything I have is yours. This isn’t about me throwing a party in your honor. Everything is yours. But your brother was lost to us and so we have a moment of rejoicing because he is no longer lost to us. He is home, but all this is yours So, like, I hear the calls. I know that there’s a lot of prodigal’s out there and we are sweating it out over them and worrying after them and wondering what to do about them. Or maybe we are the prodigal, right? Many prodigals are in this community right now trying to find their way back. I get it. What we seen this story, in all of these stories, is that God loves all of his children. So, in this story, the father didn’t stop loving his son when his son left the left. He loved and watched out and waited for his return. He loved him the whole time. And he didn’t love his faithful son any more or less either. He loved him. He said, you were always here with me, which is a beautiful thing for God to say to you. You are always here with me. Everything I have is yours. So, if you have a prodigal in your life, God hasn’t stopped loving your prodigal. There’s nothing your prodigal can do. There’s nothing your prodigal can do. There’s no depths that your prodigal can go to that God does not still love them. And we reach a point where we have to say, okay, okay, this is beyond my love, this is beyond my ability. I can do nothing to bring my son or daughter home to me. But that’s not where they’re headed anyway. They have a father who will not stop coming for them. And if you feel like you are that prodigal then you have a father who loves you and will not stop loving you, no matter what you do. So, what is the point of feeding with the pigs? What is the point? What is being accomplished by destroying yourself? What is gained in that scenario? You aren’t being shamed, not by God anyway? He’s looking for you. He wants to eat with you. He wants to be with you. He’s willing to be shamed on your behalf. And if you’re the faithful one standing on God’s promises, being faithful, doing works of service, trying to be the kind of godly person that you believe you were created to be, it’s all yours, everything the Father has is already yours. What we see in the gospel of Luke today is one of the most riveting pictures of the heart of God toward humanity toward you, toward me, toward the prodigal, toward the one who was lost that we have in all of the Scriptures. And there is no shame in any of these stories. There is only rejoicing. There is only a welcome home. That is the heart of God toward us. So, why do we use shame against each other, against ourselves? If God isn’t shaming or ashamed. May we give that some thought today as we watch the ways that we interact with people. Are we like the Pharisees or are we like in Jesus?
Father, we invite your Holy Spirit into that question. And even Lord as we move into the More Gathering now, when this is the central message, when this is exactly what this is all about, we invite your Holy Spirit to come and help us realize that You’re not shaming us. We may shame ourselves, we may shame each other, and we may have done things that we should be ashamed of, but You’re not shaming us. You’re inviting us. Maybe we’ve been too ashamed to even believe that could be true. And to even think that you would welcome us back? It just it just feels like the kind of love that we’ve never experienced, that you could be that gracious? And, so, we continue to shame ourselves and estrange ourselves from You, but what is that going to accomplish? Nothing. Nothing but separation, a separation from You that we’re instituting, not one that you installed. So, Holy Spirit come. We want to hear You say, welcome home. We want to hear rejoicing. The rejoicing that is described in the Scriptures, we believe this to be true. You wouldn’t have described, using these stories, what your heart is like if it weren’t true. And, so, this is how You feel about us, whether we are the faithful servant, whether we’re the prodigal son, whether we’re the lost sheep. All of these stories end with rejoicing. So, come Holy Spirit, let us feel this washing over us, that everything that you have You are giving to Your children and when Your children return there is great rejoicing and a beautiful welcome.
Welcome Home -Antonio Neal