God's Faithfulness Produces Reconciliation
Today’s lectionary gospel text gives us the parable of the prodigal son. It really highlights our overall theme for Lent: God’s faithfulness changes us. God’s faithfulness in providing what we need changes our response to temptation. God’s faithfulness gives us His strength in the face of suffering. God’s faithfulness produces obedience. And today, God’s faithfulness produces reconciliation. Our sinfulness has created a separation between God and humanity.
God is holy. His holiness is so incredible, that sinfulness can’t be in the same place as he is. So throughout history, God has been at work, breaking down this barrier between him and humanity. God has been reconciling humanity to himself. From the very beginning, God promised that his faithfulness, regardless of how unfaithful we were, his faithfulness would produce the result needed to enable his creation to be present with him once again. God’s faithfulness produces reconciliation.
Christmas is one of the most amazing moments in history, when God took on human flesh, Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity, became a man, a fully human being, also fully divine, so that he could reconcile sinful humanity to himself, the Holy Spirit and the Father. So that at last, we can be in the father’s presence.
Up to the moment of Jesus’ birth, the Holy Spirit was at work in various people. God would raise up leaders, prophets, priests, kings in order to bring us into faithfulness, to remind us of God’s holiness, of his commandments, his character, which we were to show by how we live.
And the people would follow, for a while, as the Spirit enabled them, as a result of God’s faithfulness, but then they’d forget and wander.
“For God so loved the world, that he sent his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life” (Jn 3.16).
Where would you expect God the Son to be? The temple? With religious people? With Good people? With saints?
No, not Jesus. Jesus came to reconcile! He came to seek and save the lost. He came for all, but those who received him were the ones who knew they were sinners. Those who thought they were righteous, wanted nothing to do with him.
Read Luke 15:1-3
He came for the very people the Pharisees didn’t want to be around. Make no mistake, he came for them too. He came to reconcile.
Reconciliation is the bringing together of two offended parties. Our sin offended God’s holiness. It needed to be paid for, it needed to be addressed.
Jesus Christ, by taking on human flesh, becoming a man, offered himself as a payment for our sin, a sacrificial atonement, once and for all. His humanity meant he could pay for human sin. His eternal divinity meant that his sacrifice paid for all sins, past, present and future.
His resurrection from the dead proved that his sacrifice was good, it was accepted, on your behalf, on my behalf.
Read Luke 15:11-32
There’s lots of things we could look at this morning. We could probably spend several weeks on this text. But for today, we’re going to look at the heart of the matter. God’s heart. Our hearts.
The young son’s heart showed in his words, his actions. “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” (). His heart was rude, crude and stupid. He asked for his inheritance while his dad was alive. He was as good as dead to him. “You are dead to me.” He was not nice. He wanted nothing to do with his family, nothing to do with his dad, nothing to do with his brother. At great cost to himself, and to his other son, the father divided his property and gave the inheritance to his son.
This dad wasn’t dumb. He knew what would happen. He knew his son. He loved his son, stupidity, crudeness, rudeness, hurtfulness. You can’t help but love your flesh and blood, no matter what they do. The Father’s heart was filled with love.
The son lost everything. He sinks so low that he’s feeding pigs: Jewish people were forbidden to do anything with pigs, they were “unclean”. Furthermore, the pods he fed the pigs were unfit for human consumption—they looked edible, but were not—for humans.
Then if finally dawned on him: he could go home. No, not as a son, he was too far gone for that. He didn’t deserve sonship. After the way he treated his dad, how could his dad treat him differently? He deserved nothing.
But maybe, maybe, his dad was gracious enough to let him be a servant. They were treated better than he was being treated now. So, he repented, he resolved to turn his back on his wild living, and he resolved to seek his father’s grace. He went home.
Let’s think about that for a moment. Think about your own life, or about the way you’ve interacted with others. Think about your relationships, good and bad. What would you expect from someone you know you’ve sinned against? What do you expect from God?
Let’s watch a short video:
That’s God, That’s Jesus, every time, every day, no matter what you’ve done. That’s God’s heart. Not just one small demonstration of love, of reconciliation, an overwhelming demonstration.
Listen to “ What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.”
As you go into the week ahead, remember. Remember God’s grace, God’s love, God’s faithfulness produces reconciliation—the sending of his Son! Be reconciled to God! And know this, that Jesus Christ, the one who saves us from our sins is always before God’s throne, always interceding for you, for me. Amen.
What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.
Ascension—ties into song of response, also, we are reconciled to God, we are able to be reconciled to each other—because of Jesus.
Thank you, Father, for your faithfulness. Thank you for your love. Thank you for Jesus. Thank you Jesus for paying for all our sins. Thank you that you stand before the Father, pleading our case before him. Thank you Holy Spirit, you always lead us right. May our hearts of stone be replaced with hearts of flesh that overflow with love for God, and for others. Amen.