i’ve tried to start reading more since the beginning of the year. call is a resolution, call it a goal, i don’t care. i’m just trying to read more. so far this year i have read one book, cover to cover. that book, “think” by john piper, has changed the way i think in some ways. this is good.
now i’m reading “the prodigal god” by tim keller. i just finished chapter 3 which was entitled “redefining sin”. towards the end of the chapter tim keller writes this in speaking of the second son…
why doesn’t he go into the party? the elder brother is not losing the father’s love in spite of his goodness, but because of it. it is not his sins that create the barrier between him and his father, it’s the pride he has in his moral record; it’s not his wrong doing but his righteousness that is keeping him from sharing in the feast with the father.
all of my life, this parable has been about the first son who basically tells his father that he wishes he was dead. “give me my share of the inheritance” he says! then he goes, and blows it all on reckless living. we all know the story. but i have never heard the fact that this parable is more about the second son.
luke points out in the first verse of chapter 15 that there were both tax collectors and sinners coming to jesus, and the pharisees and the scribes were already there. each of the sons relates to one of these groups. the first son, relates to the tax collectors and sinners. the second son, the elder, relates to the pharisees and scribes. jesus ends this parable with a cliff hanger. this has to be frustrating to the pharisees! im sure that by the end of this parable they have caught on to the fact that Jesus is talking about them. so by the end of the parable they see that God loves the first son (the tax collectors and sinners if you will) and accepts him back, but what about the other son? He is extended an invitation, but we don’t know if he goes in. his pride is holding him back. he has done all he could to do “earn” the fathers love. “Look, these many years i have served you, and i never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat…” (Lk. 15:29). One thing that has escaped him though is that he has had the love of the father the entire time, “son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.” (Lk. 15:31)!
looking at what keller writes, i am reminded of all the times that i try to put my “moralism” as the goal of my salvation. many times i think that jesus died on the cross so i could be “good”, or so i could “behave”. i constantly have to remind myself that jesus died that brutal death so i could have Him, so that i could be restored to a right relationship with God the father.
so this week i am trying to focus on the fact that Jesus is my righteousness, because my personal attempts at righteousness are like filthy rags to God.
I have been invited to the feast. There is a table with a place set just for me. I just need to go in and take a seat.