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I’m sure you recognized the story of the prodigal daughter and her older sister that I wrote earlier this month. here and here. Of course, it wasn’t as concise as the original parable, but I hope the modern version may have helped remove some of the cultural barriers to our “getting” some of Jesus’ points He was making.

There are basically two kinds of people

His audience was a mix of Pharisees and people considered to be sinners (tax collectors, the equivalent of traitors, prostitutes, and all manner of obvious sinners.) There were two kinds of people in His audience weren’t there? There were those, who like the prodigal, knew they were sinners and knew they were lost. There was no question in their minds. Then there were those like the Pharisees who were self-righteous and felt they had done enough. They worked hard at being religious. They were happy with the job they did. They looked down on everyone else who didn’t measure up to. They didn’t need help. They kept the commandments…or so they thought. When in fact, they couldn’t even keep the basic commands–to love the Lord their GOD with all their heart, soul and mind and to love their neighbor as themselves.

How can you tell if you are self-righteous? When confronted with the fact that you just might be a sinner, you will become livid!

When Jesus made that point, they hated Him more and more…to the point that they planned to kill Him! How ironic. They were going to kill the person they had been waiting for, for centuries! But He stepped on their religious toes one time too many. He pointed out that their religious practices weren’t enough to satisfy the demands of the Law.

Truth and Light were too much for them. They were unable to be joyful when sinners repented and turned to GOD. They didn’t want to be in this sort of company. How sad.

Are you usually the prodigal or the older sibling?

It is a challenge to all of us to think about which character in the story of the prodigal we identify with most…the prodigal or the older sibling? Are we able to be joyful when someone who was lost, is found; someone who was dead becomes alive? If not, we need a heart change.

Or do we identify more with the Prodigal who sinned? Maybe she hurt many people in the process, but she came to her senses and returned to the Father with humility and brokenness. Not all of us who identify with the Prodigal lived an obviously wild, sinful life. But the thing we have in common is that we recognized we were sinners, repented of our sin and returned to the Father…and must continue to do so on a daily basis.

Thankfully, GOD has given us grace, favor we didn’t deserve. He also showed us mercy by withholding punishment we did deserve…and putting it all on Jesus. As we live out our lives, we need to live out that grace and mercy to others around us as an outpouring of the work of the Holy Spirit in us.

 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast….

Colossians 1:19-23 ESV