“Let us eat, and be merry: for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry,” Luke 15:23, 24.
The shriveled, malignant soul of Satan finds no joy in those who live for God. The evil one sneered at the status Job enjoyed with God. “You have put a hedge around him and his house,” Satan claimed. You have blessed the work of his hands and have made him prosperous,” (see Job 1:10).
What Job had been before he found God, we do not know. We do know that he sensed deeply his sin and need of God. We know that, like all God’s children, he sought the obedient, faithful life. Satan’s scorn left Job vulnerable, but in the end, his faith triumphed.
In the parable of the lost son, the older brother scorned his brother’s repentance, grew angry at the favors the father gave him, and demanded to know what right the father had to treat the younger brother thus. He raised the same excuse as Cain did when he murdered Abel. He had no responsibility for the prodigal. The wayward one was “your son,” not “my brother.” In one of my favorite books, Christ’s Object Lessons, we learn that the older brother showed by his attitude that he needed reconciliation with the father as much as did the prodigal.
In the repentant attitude of the wayward son, we understand the secret of the father’s joy. In order, the prodigal declares (1) his sin against God, (2) his sin against the father, (3) his loss of sonship, and (4) his determination to serve faithfully in the father’s house.
On such contrition, the father based his hopes for the future. He saw in the son that which he had always wanted for both his children — a desire to serve from the love they had for him.
In the parable, the father represents God; the younger son — all who repent and seek reconciliation. The father’s joy as he prepares to celebrate the son’s return matches the heavenly Father’s.
God’s joy over Job appears in the final chapter as Job understands how much he owes to God and God gives His blessing. In the parable of the lost son, the father who “makes merry” helps us understand what it is that makes the heart of God glad.
As I contemplate the prodigals throughout this vast Union geography, many are attitudinally poised to acknowledge … their sin against God, their sin against the church, their loss of status as a member of the body of Christ, and their intention to serve God and His church faithfully if the opportunity is presented again. This year of multiplying our membership through reconnecting people who once walked with us builds the case for rejoicing.
I wish to thank every member of the Southern Union for your manifested partnership with us in the business of redeeming people.
“All the resources of Heaven are at the command of those who are seeking to save the lost,” Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 197. –RCS
Southern Union | April 2022