Written by Pastor Tim Rowell
“‘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.’”
Today we will explore a small part of the big story we will be covering through our Team Times this year in Germany. Jesus shared three parables in Luke 15, the last and most famous of which is the one known as the story of the Prodigal Son. In order to fully understand the words of the father in this story, you have to know a little of the context. On this particular day, Jesus was teaching a group of people, most of whom were a part of the religious elite of that day and time. We love all three of these stories because they show us just how much God loves us and desires a relationship with us. However, in the original context, Jesus is trying to show this same message to those religious leaders. In other words, Jesus was trying to shake them up a bit. They were much more concerned about rules and religion. They were extremely concerned about keeping the authority they had grabbed hold of over the years. So, just imagine this scenario for a moment. Here is Jesus trying to convince the religious leaders to stop focusing on rules and earthly authority and to start focusing on what God was really all about – relationships. In the story of the Prodigal Son, these religious leaders were represented by the older brother. He was the one who failed to see the reason for the joy of the father. He could not get past his own judgmental spirit in order to see that what was once lost (a relationship) was now found.
As with most stories in the Bible, our options here are clearly laid out. We can either join the Father in the joyous celebration of redemption or we can play the role of “hall-monitor” and make sure everyone is following the rules. The hope, of course, is that we will make the obvious choice and begin to see all people as a possibility for redemption. When we view life this way, we get the benefit of celebrating every time someone new comes to Christ! We get to welcome a new member of the family of God. As Paul told the church at Rome in Romans 8:15-17:
The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs —heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
I know these kinds of things come in waves, but I was surprised to sit down and think about the fact that at this time I know of four different families involved in the adoption process. Two of these families have already added a new member to their numbers and the other two are in the process of raising money and going through the training process. These are exciting times for these families and we all prayerfully and financially support the fulfillment of their dreams. All I know is this: when that child for whom they have waited a long, long time finally comes Home, all parties involved can hardly contain their excitement. Of course, we all know that everything is not going to be perfect for these kids. The time of transition will take a lot of adjustment. Learning how to be a part of a family takes time. But just being home is a big, big deal and worthy of a big-time celebration! I wonder if for just a moment today, while you are reading this devotion, you could stop and imagine that scene in heaven. They are waiting for another adoption. They are eagerly anticipating another lost soul being found. And when that person says “yes” to following Jesus, well, as Jesus said, “there is great rejoicing in heaven.”
Prayer: Heavenly Father, today we come seeking you and asking for two simple requests. Please help us to remember when we first came to know you – the time of our adoption into your family. Help us to imagine the celebration in heaven that took place that day. We also ask Father that you will help us to begin to see the people around us through this lens of adoption. These people are either already adopted members of this family, or they are ones who could be adopted in the future. We pray you will use us to share your good news.