Fifth Sunday in Lent, March 17

Fifth Sunday in Lent, March 17   

Scripture: Luke 15: 11-12

11 To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons. 12 The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.

Some thoughts:

     This is the third of three parables Jesus told to demonstrate God’s love for the lost, in his giving freedom (prodigal), and the great joy in finding the lost, whether a lamb or a coin. In this parable, the younger son represents the tax collectors and other outcasts, and the older son the religious leaders. Now to the parable . . .

     Those four little, simple, short, one syllable words, “I want my share,” speak volumes. A shorter version is, “I want.” And the very shortest version is, “I!” The season of Lent is about helping us to recognize how often that priority of self, guides, shapes, and rules our lives in contrast to Jesus’ giving of himself in his journey to the cross. We live in a society and in our own lives, where we are very aware of our “rights.” Look at all the lawsuits in the media and lawyer commercials on television. It is quite easy to be conscious of me. Where did we get this idea of “mine?” I think we know.

     In this parable, the son was a rightful heir, albeit an impatient, self-centered, shortsighted one! I’m embarrassed for him. Notice the Father did not reprimand him, humiliate, nor dishonor him in his demand even though the son was rude and disrespectful of his father. He gave the son what he demanded, knowing full well the consequences of his foolishness.

     There are certainly times when our heavenly Father does the same for us. He does not impose his will or force us in any direction in honoring our freedom of choice. Thankfully in his wisdom, God does not always give us what we want or ask for. But here the father does not override the son’s greed, foolishness, and immaturity. There is no “thy will be done” in the son’s demand! Can you imagine a love like this that it is so honoring and strong that God gives the freedom to be foolish? And then welcomes home the fool? As you pray today, be careful of what you ask for. In God’s gracious way, he may give it to you or not. May our words be, “Lord, I want your heart . . .” rather than, “I want my share.”

Music: “The Prodigal Song” Cory Asbury  

Prayer: O God our Father, help us to nail to the cross of thy dear Son the whole body of our death, the wrong desires of the heart, the sinful devising of the mind, the corrupt apprehensions of the eyes, the cruel words of the tongue, the ill employment of hands and feet; that the old man being crucified and done away, the new man may live and grow into the glorious likeness thy Son Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.                                            -Eric Milner-White, 1884-1964