The younger son doesn’t get what he deserves. And that’s the point. This popular parable paints a picture of our Amazing Father’s Amazing Grace. But who does the older son represent?
What are we training for? Are we training ourselves to resemble the culture or are we training ourselves to resemble the Christ?
Are we developing and maintaining worldly habits or are we developing and maintaining godly habits? Paul says that we should run the Christian race as if we were trying to win first prize – a way that requires discipline and self-control.
Before we say we want to follow Christ, we ought to read the fine print. Jesus says anyone who desires to follow behind Him must deny themselves, carry their cross, and follow Him. We must wholly committed to Christ — metaphorically (or even literally!) — giving up our lives for the Savior’s service. In our lives, the Lord must be first and foremost.
Will we be like Herod and Archelaus – letting nothing get in the way of the pursuit of our selfish ambitions? Not even the life of children?! Or will we give ourselves to Christ? Will we surrender to the Savior? Will we come before the King?
Herod was unwilling give up his throne. Are we unwilling to give Jesus the throne of our lives? The Magi brought Jesus gold, frankincense, and myrrh – gifts fit for a king. This Christmas, what will we bring Jesus?
We often ask, “What do you want for Christmas?” But a better question is, “what does Christ want from you?” This Christmas, the question shouldn’t be, “What are we getting for Christmas?”, but “What are we getting Christ for Christmas?”
Jesus is Immanuel — “God With Us”. In light of the with-ness of the Divine, we should be a witness for the Divine. The greatest of all Christmas presents was the Presence of Christ – Christ who is still with us, through the Holy Spirit. This Christmas, let’s not focus on worldly ways of “getting in the Christmas Spirit”, let’s focus on letting the true Christmas Spirit get into us!
As His Name “Jesus” (Jesus –> Joshua, “YHWH saves” / “The LORD saves”) suggests, Matthew makes it clear that the prophesied Messiah who was to be a son of David has arrived for the salvation of His people. But not in the way the Jews expected – not salvation from political oppression, but from our spiritual transgressions. Not freedom from Caesar, but freedom from sin.
John the Baptist serves as a transitional bridge between the Old Testament and the New Testament, the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. His purpose is to prepare the way for the Lord, to prepare God’s people for God’s Presence. My brothers and sisters, are we ready for Christmas? Are we prepared for the Lord? Are we ready to follow the Way or are we still going our own way? We may have prepared our homes for company, but have we prepared our hearts for Christ? Let’s not merely celebrate the presents under the tree, but the Presence of the Lord. Who came and dwelled among us.
We Americans love to be independent. Our Declaration of Independence tells us we have the divine right of “the pursuit of happiness”. But we really have the divine requirement of the pursuit of holiness. True happiness entails rejecting the ways of the wicked and accepting the way of the Waymaker — not living life according to our own selections, but according to God’s directions.
Ultimately, there are two ways to live life. We can live in a way contrary to God’s character or in a way conforming to God’s character. We can live life as directed, or live life as selected – according to God’s directions or according to our selections.
The Two Ways have two different destinations. The self-directed way of the wicked leads to instability and destruction. The divinely-directed way of the righteous leads to true bliss and (godly) prosperity.