Good Morning, Siblings!
Today’s readings are Luke 14-16
Beginning in chapter 14 we see Messiah yet again astounding the Pharisees and lawyers, asking them questions that they cannot answer. The position they are in is that they know the law and they know Messiah knows as well, but they are holding up their tradition over the Father’s commandments and so these questions are traps. Of course, the fact that they themselves can’t answer them is a snare in and of itself.
If your background is anything like mine, chances are the Pharisees have always been held up as villains whenever they are spoken of. I was pretty surprised, then, to realize that I was guilty, time and again, of doing the same things Messiah condemns the Pharisees for. In many ways, we are taught to disregard the commandments and the Word of YHWH in order to hold tight to current church tradition instead. I want to challenge you to think of at least one instance where this is the case today. I can think of five big ones I have been guilty of in the past right off the top of my head.
In Luke 14:12-24 we see Messiah’s illustration of the great banquet. He lets us know that the people taking part in this banquet will not be who we imagine they would be. Those who we all expect to be there were called but they gave worldly things precedence over Messiah’s invitation. They each had an excuse as to why they couldn’t answer His call. I wonder if the excuses I’ve used over the years have sounded as weak and flimsy to Him, because they certainly have been.
We go on to read about the cost of discipleship. Luke 14:26 always trips people up but I think we have to look at what the Messiah is saying. Following Him must be the first priority. Not secondary or somewhere on the list when time permits, but first. If you read this verse in some other translations you might find a bit more clarity.
This is the CEB
“You cannot be my disciple, unless you love me more than you love your father and mother, your wife and children, and your brothers and sisters. You cannot follow me unless you love me more than you love your own life.” Luke 14:26
He goes on to warn about the cost of following Him. You know, we hear this a lot and I think the fact that we hear this a lot has made the concept lose its meaning. Also, where we live the religious freedoms are so great compared to other countries that we tend to have a skewed view of the cost of following Messiah.
Whereas others may literally have to give their life in order to do so, for us it feels an excessive burden to simply have our denomination criticized or to hear that a public prayer may not be allowed in a proceeding. Now I’m not saying those things aren’t worthy of concern, I’m just saying those are pretty lightweight “costs” when it comes to what others have paid historically and currently still pay in many parts of the world. In other words, we have it pretty good. But let us take a moment to really read the Messiah’s words today when He discusses the cost of following Him and warns us that it will be great.
Folks, it is.
It is very great.
And the time has come where we will have to choose who we will serve and we will be up against things that will ensure this is not the easy decision we may think it will be. Gird yourself. Messiah is serious and we need to give great weight to His words and arm ourselves accordingly with the truth of the Word.
I love the parable of the lost sheep. He left the 99 to save each one of us. What a beautiful and very true illustration. But note that Messiah went out of His way to save the ones that the religious folks deemed not even worthy of their attention. If He came back today and we were to walk in on Him having a meal, I think we’d be very surprised at who was sitting around that table with Him.
The Prodigal Son – this story is more personal than we realize.
11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.
17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
25 “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’” Luke 15:11-32
A few years back, when I came to really open my eyes to the parable of the Prodigal Son, I was amazed at what had been in front of me all along. There have been many interpretations and applications of this throughout our generations but I want to share with you an idea to consider.
There are two sons – immediately we are drawn to the family tree of YHWH. Specifically, the two branches of that family tree that we know of today: Believers in Messiah/Christians and our Jewish Brethren. The chosen people and us. Isaiah 56 YHWH tells us that we will be better than sons and daughters if we choose to follow Him. The older son stayed, was steadfast, at His Father’s side, and doing all He said to do. He was following his Father’s “law”. The younger son accepted his inheritance (salvation and eternal life) and went and lived however he wanted. Finding himself out in the world, his inheritance wasted, waking up in a pig pen (deep symbolism here) he realized that being a servant in His Father’s house was far better than being a “rich” man in the world. He returned.
It is understandable that the son who lived according to his father’s expectations all along would be jealous. He had counted on his deeds alone to allow him to be in his Father’s graces. He was going by the letter of the law, treating it as a checklist of sorts. While the younger son was living in abuse of grace, not only ignoring the father’s rules but positioning himself so that they didn’t even apply to him (in his mind).
How great is the day when we wake up in that pig pen and realize the blessing of being a servant to YHWH rather than a slave to the world!
The prodigal son is us, awakening to the truth. Living within our Father’s house, according to His rules, is not bondage. This freedom we thought we had, it leaves us waking up in pig pens, unprotected, malnourished, and alone. It is only when we realize what we’ve missed, what our brother’s clung to, that we can be truly free to live as we were intended to live. And as for the older brother? He was so busy checking off the to do list that he forgot the heart of our Father is one of love, compassion, and showing grace to others. These are things we know of intimately through our Messiah. We will inspire them to jealousy and this will eventually lead them to the truth as spoken directly about in Romans 11. But before we inspire them to this jealousy, the Bible tells us that we must return first and humble ourselves.
17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, 18 do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. Romans 11:17-18
Return to me and I will return to you. Zech 1:3
They (our Jewish brethren) are living in obedience to the Father’s Word but without Messiah. We (Gentile believers) are living with Messiah but without obedience to the Father’s Word.
We each need what the other has to be complete, to wholly follow YHWH bring the family back together again. This is all part of the plan, as foretold in Isaiah 56, Ezekiel 37, Romans 11, and Genesis through Revelation.
I’m not the only one who sees this parable in such a way. There are numerous articles, blog posts, etc detailing this. I found a pretty well written article that I’m sharing with you below. Some may not care for this theory, but others may find it to be a significant AHA moment as I did. If you want to consider this theory, a good study into Romans 11 will bring much deeper understanding. Here is the article but know that I’ve not vetted the site and am not endorsing any other articles. As always, test it to the straight edge of YHWH’s word.
We have to pay special attention to Luke 16:16 where it says “The law and the prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it. But it is easier for heavens and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void.”
The use of the word “until” causes some to say that the commandments have been done away with but if we just finish out that sentence we see Messiah making sure we know they have not. A handy tool whenever someone quotes a verse that seems to contradict the Father is to read the verses immediately before and after that one. Like I always say, when someone gives you a verse, always take a chapter. Better still, take a book. Better still, take the whole book.
“Until” is being used as a way of saying “Up until now we’ve preached the law and the prophets and now that we’re preaching salvation folks are trying to force their way into being saved without obedience, but the commandments are still in effect.”
Messiah goes on to elaborate even more on this in the story of the rich man and Lazarus, which told in pretty much the same breath. The wealthy man dies and is being tormented, but sees a man he himself tormented in his lifetime and asks Abraham to allow Lazarus to warn his living brothers about his own torment so that they can avoid this punishment he is having to endure. Abraham replies “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, they won’t be convinced even if someone rose from the dead.”
This is, of course, speaking of YHWH’s word in the books Moses authored and the ones by the prophets. They were written to guide and teach us but if anyone closes their eyes and ears to those, they have surely closed themselves off from hearing the truth.
Test everything, hold tight to what is good.~ 1 Thess 5:21
We are saved by Grace alone: Obedience is not the root of our salvation, it is the fruit!