I apologize again that we have not posted a review of the trip yet. We have had busy weeks with new stresses recently. Amanda has recently started a new case with more hours and we have been working to get the house prepared for winter.
I hate to disappoint, but we still do not have our review ready to post. I promise that it is on our to-do lists!
To tide you over until then, I have included the transcript of the the message/lesson that I (Dan) gave at la fuente, the after-school ministry that we were helping at. Enjoy.
11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
This parable of the two sons presents us with a lot of truth, wrapped up in this short section. Jesus has this amazing ability to use the parables to teach about who he is and what our relationship with Him can look like in just a few paragraphs.
In this parable, Jesus tells about God’s reaction to two different ways that we may interact with Him. today, we will focus on what the older brother in this parable teaches us, and next time we are here, John will talk about what the older brother in this parable teaches us about our relationship with God.
Let’s start by making an observation about who the father in this story is. Honestly, we don’t really get very much information about the father at the start here. What we do see is that he loves and generously gives to his children. Right in the beginning, in verse 12, the younger son asks fora portion of his fathers property, his inheritance. This request was highly unusual. Typically, an inheritance is given upon the death of the father. Even when the portion of the fathers property was given before death, it was the fathers choice. The son was requesting something that was not yet his, with a complete disregard for the fathers authority. The younger son was seeking and asking for the things the father could give, but had little regard for his father. Even still, the father generously grants the son what is not yet his.
Both sons are starting this parable here, in the presence of their father, each with a share of their fathers property. it is at this point that their paths diverge. The younger son, the same son that was asking for his inheritance, takes what his father has given him and leaves his father. He goes far away and spends everything. He was living the good-life, enjoying what comfort “things” could give him, until famine struck. The only work he could find didn’t even pay well enough to provide him a decent meal.
In fact, he had nothing to eat and spent his days deeding pigs. In their culture, pigs were incredibly unclean animals. For him to work feeding pigs was the lowest of jobs he could have had. It would have been shameful and humiliating. Imagine a rich son who leaves his father, spends all that he has been given, and the only job he can get is worse than a garbage man [in Salvadoran culture, the garbage man was seen as one of the most unclean, shameful jobs].
Have you ever felt like that? We are often just like the younger son in this story. God has already granted us more than what we deserve, and well before we before we should have received it. he has given us life and joy, skills and desires, day and night, and we squander them all. God wants us to thrive near him but we insist that we take control, walk away from him, and throw away what He has so graciously given us.
It can be tempting to depend on these gifts; God has given us many, great things. But when we depend on these things that God has given us instead of on God himself, the joy and comfort that the gifts provide, does not last. They cannot be self-sustaining.
We can depend on our friends and family, but they will let us down and disappoint us. We can depend on our own strength and skills, but we will not be able to do it on our own. we can depend on having stuff or relationships but they will not continue to satisfy us.
Because then, when we have had our fun, famine arises, ans we are left feeding the pigs, in the lowest of all places. Maybe the famine deprives you of food, or perhaps you are void of joy? or you feel alone? or hopeless?
Maybe you experience a physical famine and feel dirtier than a garbage man, but your famine may not be so tangible, but instead seen in some of these other ways. maybe no one else can tell that you feel like you are missing something in your life and no amount of success and comfortable living can fill that void.
The beautiful thing is that this story, our story, doesn’t end with the famine. The son comes humbly back to the father, planning to ask for a job. The son knew that he had done his father wrong, and that something must be done to make up for his mistakes. He prepares an apology, admitting his faults, and plans to beg fora place as a servant at his fathers house.
But before he even gets there, the father comes running with arms open wide. Though the son was prepared to apologize, the father ignores his apologies and instead embraces his son, and begins preparing for a celebration of his return.
The father gives more gifts to his son that had returned. he brings the best robe, puts a ring on his finger and shoes on his feet, and he kills the fattened calf. These were all valuable gifts hat the son did not deserve. He may have deserved to be living with the pigs, or, at best, his fathers servant because he squandered what his father had already given him, but instead the father gave him compassion, and a loving embrace.
Likewise, we do not deserve to return to God, our father. We may even feel like we need to do something to make up for what we have done. This feeling that something must be done before we can come to God isn’t wrong. We had spent our inheritance and it is not free to replace. But our God ran to us before we even started our journey back to Him. He loves us so much that He doesn’t require us to pay back what we have squandered. Instead, He sacrificed His perfect, sinless son, Jesus, to bare the weight of our actions. We had accumulated a debt to pay and Jesus paid it in full. We were dead, and are now alive through Christ.
No matter how far we have walked away from God, He is still waiting with open arms to lovingly embrace you, graciously forgive you, and joyfully celebrate your return.