Today’s Reading: Luke 15:11-32
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. (Luke 15:29)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Some people characterize the Christian religion this way: “So, a person could just live a horrible life and then at the very end they just repent and they’re saved? That’s not fair.” The fact that any sinner can be saved by Jesus, even at the last moment of a wasted life (see: thief on the cross) is what really makes some people upset. What they really don’t like is that a grace like that, which saves us despite our sins, means that all their efforts and good works don’t count. And who wants their good life not to be worth anything?
God’s grace in Christ is scandalous. It’s NOT fair. It’s undeserved. It says that no matter what we’ve done, it has been forgiven by the death of Jesus on Calvary. It says there are no conditions or qualifications to receive it. It’s already yours. Baptism makes it yours officially and Absolution and the Supper deliver what Jesus has for you over and over.
It’s scary to believe in this sort of Savior. If we’re saved despite our sins and from them, well then aren’t people just going to do whatever they want? Why would they? To be saved is to have the Holy Spirit living in us and working in us to live a new life.
But people get nervous when they don’t have control of their salvation and spiritual lives. The older son was mad because HE never lived a wasted life like his worthless brother. And that’s when the father reminds him that he’s always been his son. But so has the younger brother. That’s just it. The Father isn’t your Father because you have behaved or not. He’s not your Father only because you came back and tried to do better. He’s your Father because He’s given you the new birth at the font. You are His own dear family and He loves you. Whether your life has been “average” or “good” or “awful,” it doesn’t matter. God loves you in and through Jesus Christ. He is your God and you will always be His beloved child. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
Children of the heav’nly Father Safely in His bosom gather; Nestling bird nor star in heaven Such a refuge e’er was given. (Children of the Heavenly Father, LSB 725:1)