Luke 15: 25-32 Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, “Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’ “But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. So he answered and said to his father, “Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’ And he said to him, “Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.”‘
Much has been written about this other son. We despise him sufficiently, but let us make sure that his error does not become our own. At the bottom of it all, this older son is angry that the younger son is getting the benefits of sonship that he feels like he never received. And it makes him angry. I don’t blame him for being angry, but he was angry at the wrong person. The father made it clear that everything was his, but he was so busy working, working, working, that he never enjoyed the things that the father has already made available to him. If he had been a son that availed himself of all the benefits given by the father, his heart would have been so full that he would have rejoiced that his brother had returned because it made the father happy. What sweet fellowship could have been had if the older brother had joined him in watching for his brother’s return?
Don’t let yourself fall into the trap of getting angry and jealous over what somebody else is receiving from God. Go bury your face in the face of God until you are filled with every good thing He has for you…then join the Father in those things that rejoice His heart.
The Father is ever watching for the returning sons while we are busy with life. Maybe it would please His heart more if we skipped that religious activity we do out of obligation (whatever that might be in your life) and went out to meet some prodigal on his return trip home….shielding him from shame as he makes his way home to the Father. Assuring him that he is accepted, beloved and forgiven.
Luke 15:20 “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.”
This is such a beautiful picture of the Father’s heart for every prodigal….he never stopped longing for the son that had left him. He had been humiliated by this son, his goodness had been exploited, his love had been trampled on. But his heart yearned for him. I wonder if he went every day to gaze down the path his son had traveled when leaving…..scanning the horizon to see if this would be the day he would return home. How many days passed with no son returning? We aren’t told. But on the day the son returned, the father was watching. Intently watching. So much so that he saw him a great way off.
The world had been harsh to the boy and he was returning with his tail between his legs….broken by the life he had chosen. The son who had humiliated the Father now returned humiliated. How many neighbors must have seen him on the road as he traveled home? Their glaring disapproval must have disheartened him all the more. Shame is piled upon shame and humiliation upon humiliation. But the father saw the beloved son approaching, and unwilling for the boy to be humiliated any further he did the unthinkable….he picked up the skirt of his robe….and RAN. No respectable man runs. That is the activity of children. So the disapproving eyes are turned away from the son, now onto the father…as he ran to his son and embraced him, hiding him in his arms away from every condemning stare. The boy finished the rest of his journey home accompanied by the father, that very presence announcing to all who saw him – ACCEPTED! BELOVED! FORGIVEN!
Acts 19:24-27. For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Diana, brought no small profit to the craftsmen. He called them together with the workers of similar occupation, and said: “Men, you know that we have our prosperity by this trade. Moreover you see and hear that not only at Ephesus, but throughout almost all Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away many people, saying that they are not gods which are made with hands. So not only is this trade of ours in danger of falling into disrepute, but also the temple of the great goddess Diana may be despised and her magnificence destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worship.”
I get the sense that Demetrius was not so much a religious man as a greedy man, as he makes several appeals to the financial benefit that Diana worship brings to men of the city of Ephesus. Surely such a businessman had the intelligence to realize that Paul was correct…a man cannot make a god with his hands. However that was not a profitable stance for him to take and not one that he would lend any credence to. So he appeals to the men on the basis of what he worships (money), and then on the basis of the dangers to their religious culture and warned that Diana’s magnificence would be destroyed by what Paul was teaching. This is the “greatness” of a man made God- it is ever subject to being demolished and dismantled by truth. Whatever magnificence Diana had was a magnificence imputed by men and could thus be taken away by men. But the magnificence of the true God cannot be touched or diminished. No man gave it to Him and no man can take it from Him. The magnificence of Jesus was revealed in greater glory and power after they attempted to destroy Him by crucifixion. Though He is rejected by men still, His magnificence is untouched. He remains as glorious as He has always been in eternity past and will be in eternity future. He doesn’t need us to protect His splendor….only to reveal it. Let the world in its vanity scoff and mock if they will. He loses nothing by their disapproval and disdain. His remains an untouchable magnificence.
Psalm 34:19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him out of them all.
What a beautiful promise of deliverance this is for the child of God….one that many have clung to in the dark seasons of life. Deliverance. An end to the trial. This is often our sole focus in time of trouble, trial and affliction….the end of it. But what about the fruit of it? What about the work of God through it? That same verse tells us that afflictions WILL come. Many afflictions. It is an unavoidable part of life. Can we believe there is purpose in it?
Acts 16 – Paul had been in Philippi for many days. He had been to Lydia’s house and to the river, but what about this jailer? How would he hear the gospel? The wisdom of God is to put His ministers in jail. Paul’s prison was for this man’s soul.
Paul probably didn’t know this when he was beaten and put in the stocks, but He trusted God enough to leave His suffering to God’s sovereign purpose. How else would he be able to worship in such a situation?
My suffering often benefits me when I allow myself to be instructed through it and I am grateful for the lessons I have learned and the experience with God through it. But maybe….just maybe…my suffering is for someone else. How easy to bear is a prison that brings forth a soul.
Song of Songs 1:5-6 I am dark, but lovely, O daughters of Jerusalem, Like the tents of Kedar, Like the curtains of Solomon. Do not look upon me, because I am dark, Because the sun has tanned me. My mother’s sons were angry with me; They made me the keeper of the vineyards, But my own vineyard I have not kept.
Dark but lovely…in a day that placed value on untanned skin, her darkness marked her as one lacking financial resources, which required her to live a life of labor. But notwithstanding her darkness, there was a beauty still remaining.
Every life contains the beauty of God’s image, but in us all it is marred by the darkness of sin. Some may appear darker than others because they have labored much for that taskmaster. But beneath it still is that image…though tarnished, it remains.
So let us not look upon others because they are dark…focused on the blackness of their sin. This is not who they are just as it was not who you truly were. We are to judge no one after the flesh. Look further, past the disfiguring effects of sin, and see….what lies just beneath the surface….tarnished but still faintly seen…the image of the Creator…waiting to be made beautiful again by the blood of Jesus.
At times in my own life I have seen the marring effects of sin so prominently that I have felt identified by it and lost sight of the beauty that remains. I am still His. I am still loved.
Like the coarse tents of Keder
Like the luxurious curtains of Solomon
Treasure in an earthen vessel
Dark, but lovely
Song of Songs 1:2 [The Shulamite] Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth–For your love is better than wine.
The root of the word “kiss” has this meaning: to kindle a fire, to burn
This is not just a peck on the cheek or the kind of kiss you give your grandmother. This is a kiss of passionate desire….the kind of kiss you feel all over your body…that awakes you to love
The kisses of the mouth of Christ are His words and they are spoken to us by His Spirit. Not just the reading of a book, but the work of the Holy Spirit whereby He makes those words live in us. What fires are kindled by such kisses! What desires are stirred for intimacy! Better than wine that makes the heart glad are the kisses of Christ that make the soul glad.
Kiss me with the kisses of Your mouth that I might burn for You! Kindle a fire in this soul that can only be satisfied in Your presence. Draw me nearer with great anticipation of what it means to really know You….