And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. Luke 15:11 (ESV)
It almost sounds like the opening of a good joke, but this was no joke. Jesus begins this amazing parable, commonly known as the Parable of the Prodigal Son, with something many of those listening could relate to. The parable tells of greed, debauchery, disrespect, jealousy, anger, depression, restoration, forgiveness, and grace. In other words, except for the last three items listed, it has all the making of a great Hollywood movie.
The trouble is that restoration, forgiveness, and grace are at the heart of the parable, for they are at the very heart of the parable teller. I’m a storyteller disguised as a pastor, and I know that the stories that find the longest shelf life in the hearer are those to which the teller and the hearer could relate. Who can not relate to this parable? Who has not been greedy, angry, or depressed at some time? Who has not longed for restoration and grace? Who has not struggled both to receive and to offer forgiveness? These are all part of the human condition of life in a broken world.
In this season of preparation for Easter, we are drawn to themes of anger and forgiveness, for they are at the heart of the Lenten journey – Anger of the religious leaders toward Jesus – Forgiveness from the heart of the crucified Christ.
This is yet another reason that Easter Matters. My past sins are forgiven! We love to hear the words of the Father in Jesus' Parable to his servants upon the return of the prodigal,
But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate. Luke 15:22-24 (ESV)
May we prepare our hearts for the great celebration of Easter as we open our hearts and our lives to hear those loving words of a dying savior spoken from the cross to the thief who looks a lot like me and you.
And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23:43 (ESV)
Go ahead and live in that Easter Forgiveness today and ponder the Joy as we prepare for Easter Morning!