Meanderings of a Minister


We Are Not Worthy!

worthy-title

It never ceases to amaze me how I can read a passage of scripture I have read a number of times before and have it hit me in ways that it might not have all of those many times before.  One such scripture is the story of the Prodigal Son.  The story is found in Luke 15.

To get the setting of the story, one must read verses 1 and 2.

Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him.  Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, ‘This man received sinners and eats with them.’”

So, the story of the Prodigal Son was told because the Pharisees were upset with Jesus for spending time with sinners.  Jesus actually tells three stories with one lesson.  We see this lesson stated in verse 10, as well as other places in this chapter,

“In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Jesus told these stories as proof of His love for and ministry to those who were far from God.  When Jesus gets past the story of the lost sheep, and the story of the lost coin, he then turns to the story we know as the story of the Prodigal Son.    While it is not my purpose to go through this whole story in this brief article, let’s summarize it.

A young man came to his father and basically said, “I wish you were dead already and I could my inheritance money.”  Surprisingly, the father grants the inheritance.  The young man quickly liquefies his assets and heads out of town to the “far country”.  It doesn’t take long of living high on the hog before the man is broke and has to turn to feeding the hogs.  This is something a good Hebrew simply could not abide, but the man was desperate, so he takes the job.  After serving in this capacity for an undisclosed amount of time, he changed his mind about how bad his father might have been and how bad his life with his father might have been.  He decides to go home.

In preparation for going home, the son comes up with a speech he is planning to deliver to his father in which he would ask not to be restored, but only to be allowed to work for his father and have a place to stay and food to eat.  Here is his speech from verses 18b and 19:

“Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.”

As the son makes his way home, the father sees him coming and runs to him and starts to hug him and kiss him.  Notice what speech the young man gives his father.  It is found in verse 21:

“Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.”

The Father, seemingly not even hearing this confession, shouts orders to his servants about restoring the young man to his position in the house as a son.  What was the difference between what the young man had rehearsed so many times along the way and what he actually got to say?  He did not get a chance to ask to be made a slave, but was reinstalled as a son.  The Father was glad to have the son home, well, and under his protective roof once again.

The rest of the story shows the older brother upset that the father will receive the wayward son.  Jesus told this story to help the religious people to see that He had come to reach the very people the religious people were upset He was reaching.  They had missed the point.

So, when I read this story again, what popped out to me?  The religious leaders of Jesus’ day were upset that Jesus was ministering to people who were not worthy of Him, but they did not realize that is the description of all of us.  None of us are worthy of God’s love.  Whether we wear a business suit, jogging suit, or loin cloth, none of us are worthy.  Whether we have a billion dollars, or are in debt trillions of dollars, we are not worthy.  Whether we have a doctorate degree, or dropped out of elementary school, we are not worthy.  That is why it is grace!

Many of us church people forget that we are saved by God’s grace and; thus forgetting, we fail to show that same grace to others.  Maybe we had better come back to God on our knees and cry, “We are not worthy to be called your sons or daughters.  Make us like a hired hand.”  And then, we will realize the blessings of God’s grace that, in Christ, we are called His sons and daughters.

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