This morning I was meditating on the parable of the prodigal son.
All of the characters in the parable are important: the prodigal son himself, the father, and the older brother.
Since the Lord Jesus directed the parable to the Pharisees and scribes, I decided to focus on the older brother. The older brother cannot accept that his father is willing to be merciful to his miscreant brother.
I intended to meditate on two points:
Second, consider that even if this person were the only sinner on earth, the Lord Jesus would still gladly have shouldered the Cross and offered Himself just to save the annoying-prize winner.
I thought this would be a profitable meditation. I recognized that I would want to hem God’s mercy in. I would want to say, “Sure, God would love the bad person if he made some effort to be better. Then God would be merciful.”
But this is not true. In the parable, the Prodigal Son goes home only because he is starving. He does not truly repent until he sees the father running towards him. Christ would suffer and die for the most annoying sinner on earth even if that sinner were ten times worse than he is now.
The thing is, I was quite surprised with how the meditation went. I had a lot more trouble with the first part than I thought I would.
Who annoys me the most? Let’s see…Labron James? Yes, he does annoy me, but he can also be funny…Gee, who annoys me MORE THAN ANYONE ELSE?
Then it dawned on me:
I annoy myself more than anyone else does! I myself am the most annoying person. I constantly try my own limited patience.
This, my dear friends, is the genius of Christ’s parables: They are so profound, they reveal the truth so deeply–one single person can be both the prodigal son and the older brother.
So I have to beg for mercy not once but twice: for being so annoying and for letting myself get annoyed.
And I can be amazed to learn that God is so gracious that He would be merciful even to me, even though I am too stubborn to be merciful to myself.