The parable of the lost son.
The one who “works” to earn his inheritance. The one who resents both his brother and his father. The one who feels he is “owed”. The elder son. That lost son. The one who is always passed over. The parable of that one.
The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ “My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found. Luke 15:28-32
Jesus got indignant from time to time. Indignant with man’s inhumanity to man. Making “sacred” something else. Making a scar on another sacred. Making sacred “scared”. That indignation is good. That is Love.
Here the elder son wields the scarring knife of sacred words: “this son of yours who has squandered your property”. That’s quite a disembowelling. The father and the brother all in nine brief words. There is no indignation here. There is just a lashing out. There is a need to hurt. There is nothing good here.
And there is no neat punch line to the parable. No spiritual and emotional sticking plaster. Jesus knows before he allowed himself to be murdered by us – murdered by us for us. He knows we will continue to lash out. Continue to scar each other. Disembowel each others’ faith. Earn our way into heaven. Ignore the freedom of forgiveness, the freedom of true love, that freedom for which we killed him … That we will prostrate ourselves before the cross, thank The Lord always, praise the father loudly, preach resurrection and forgiveness from sin, we will die to this world – and still refuse to accept it is free.
Isn’t that why we will still prefer the old way. The doing the law tick-box way. The how good have I been way. The how much have I sacrificed way. The how much does this hurt way. The I am better than you way. The you are a sinner way. The I am a sinner way. The keeping count way. The accountants way.
We don’t do free very well. We like not to owe anything. Just in case. Just so we can have a day off from being good. Just so this “work” can be offset against some earlier “overtime” when we get tired. Just so we can demand a recount if God says “who are you?” rather than “welcome!”
It’s how we do things.
And if it is how we do things, it must be how God does things as well. Isn’t that why God Jesus allowed us to murder Him? Just so we could carry on earning our passage to eternal life. Being in control.
But do you think He “gets it” yet? And have you asked Him recently? Told Him that He really – after all this time – should have “got it” by now. That Freedom is bad. That the freedom which is real Love, the love that is God, the God we murdered, the God who we say we love, the God who died so we don’t have to … that we prefer rules instead, thank you very much.
Isn’t that how your God does things? Or have I missed something?