Scripture:  Exodus 28:40 - And for Aaron's sons thou shalt make coats, and thou shalt make for them girdles, and bonnets shalt thou make for them, for glory and for beauty.

Exodus 29:10-11 - ...And thou shalt cause a bullock to be brought before the tabernacle of the congregation: and Aaron and his sons shall put their hands upon the head of the bullock. And thou shalt kill the bullock before the Lord, by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation."

Luke 15:21-24 - And the son said unto him, 'Father, I HAVE SINNED against heaven, and in thy sight, AND AM NO MORE WORTHY to be called thy son.' But the father said to his servants, 'bring forth the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: and bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and 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 15:7 - I say unto you, that likewise, JOY SHALL BE IN HEAVEN OVER ONE SINNER THAT REPENTETH, more than ninety and nine just persons who need no repentance.
So, Jesus gives us this parable, sided with several others, which lifts up the value of all, by clearly showing how love reaches for the singularly lost. We see by this illustration just how personalized God's saving is. A fellow can drift terribly, and yet, for His mercy be reached-and reasonably there is earthly and celestial joy, there is situational and eternally sound joy.   And as the father embraces his fallen son, one can feel Psalm 103:1,2 just spring to life: "Bless the Lord, O' my soul: and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O' my soul, and forget not all His benefits."

Care must be given to not heavily modernize the understanding of this parable, as a very Jewish Jesus is bringing a message from antiquity, to us all, through a very Jewish audience. The thread throughout it all, is the overarching reality of holiness, and the need for repentance [for both prodigal sons, the areligious younger son and the self-righteous older brother].

When we visit 'the tabernacle', our holy pages put front and center the reality of sin, and the need to come right, with the sacrifice of the bullock. .The joy to be had rests upon a sacrifice. Joy and Repentance are soberly inseparable.

Out in the field working, is the elder brother, the one whom by rights is favored, who hears the celebration, and discovers, while he is working, there's a party offered for his brother, the one who left him behind with all the duties most likely to include raising 'the fatted calf'.  His dismay is understandable.

Now this fatted calf, preceded by the article 'the', may have a distinction above being the next meal. Implied is that it is special, pampered, dedicated, protected much like the special bullock as the tabernacle sacrifice. And what if the dressing up of the younger son was with ceremonial garb, assisted by the father's servants. He would have to be cleaned up first, then dressed. The sacrifice preceded the merriment. Confession preceded the merriment before God, before the father, before others and before the fatted calf whose blood would be spilt.

The message of honoring the holy is at the heart of the parable, that God will bless the repentant, returning lost son [or daughter], and that the prevailing prayer and the hope of a loving father works. At the heart of the parable is a life for a life, atonement of one sort, foreshadowing the gift of life through God the Son, the 'lamb of God', Jesus.

'Just as I am without one plea, but that Thy blood was shed for me, and that Thou bidst me come to Thee- O' Lamb of God I come. I come.'

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, thank You for Your care, which has rescued me when I was most prodigal, doing the work that I  could not do for myself, and setting before me life, and the heavenly promise, all upon the gracious gift of Yourself-that I believe. Even now, with all that I know and have from You, I still drift, and offer You less than You deserve. Forgive me. Receive this broken heart, and have Your way. Bless You Lord. Amen.

(by Dr. McNeal Brockington)






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