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Luke 15:11-24

 

Jesus  said, "There was a man who had two sons. 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. 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. And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.

 

"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! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants."' 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. 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.'  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. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.' And they began to celebrate. 
 (ESV)

 

Claiming Our Inheritance

St. Luke, Evangelist

18 October 2013

Our heavenly Father has made sons of us prodigals. We have wasted our inheritance, and yet He takes us back into His household, running out to greet us while we were still a long way off. He has not merely met us "half way," but He has gone to the extraordinary length of offering into death His only begotten Son that He might call us His sons and that we might rightly call him our Father. He has exposed Himself to ridicule by abasing Himself for us, who had done nothing but abuse His hospitality. He has girded up His loins in the incarnation of His Son, that He might fit us in the flowing robe of righteousness given only to a son. Our sin can be no impediment to our changed status. Those whom God forgives have all that is given to those who are sons. Though we ought only be slaves in His household, He has made us heirs of all that is His. He names us sons and what God names a thing; that is what a thing is (1Jn 3:1). Although we have no right to call Him our Father, He invites us to do so. He makes us right through Christ. What we may not claim by right, He gives freely for Christ's sake.

 

Just as Christ is God's Son, so we too have the right to call ourselves sons of God. How exalted this title, shared as it is with God's Son. Those who pray, then, do not stand on their own right. They haven't got a leg to stand on. Instead our Father makes us to stand on Christ. We are children of our Father through Christ. And there is no middle ground. There isn't a no-man's land between God and the devil. There is no neutral ground. One is either in the trench of Satan or has been rescued from our father by birth and brought into the kingdom of our heavenly Father by rebirth. We have not deserved to be with our heavenly Father, but have deserved to remain under the sway of His enemy, the devil. How unaccountably gracious this is! We deserve damnation. He does not give us what we deserve. He gives us salvation as a free gift paid for by His Son. Our Father puts us on His knee and bends His ear to the whispers of His children, listens to every agonized syllable, and dotes on every request. He is our true Father. We are His true children. We are bold to pray, "Our Father...."

 

We have those strange definitions of what true spirituality is. It doesn't often include the very earthy experience of praying in the midst of need. As a parish pastor I plan and work and campaign that the mission of the church might go forward in the life of the parish I am privileged to serve, but only when such work seems to be thwarted do I then repair to prayer. This is a shame to me. For here is where we should truly begin. Confident spirituality kneels in humility and begs our Father to grant the very things which He has constantly promised to us, that the gates of hell cannot prevail against His church. We will inherit it all. There is every reason we should claim our inheritance in prayer.

 

Cyprian of Carthage

 

"In the Lord's Prayer we not only observe and understand that we call Him Father who is in heaven; but we should add to it, and say our Father, that is, the Father of those who believe, of those who, being sanctified by Him and restored by the nativity of spiritual grace, have begun to be sons of God. This word rebukes the Jews, who not only unbelievingly despised Christ, who had been announced to them by the prophets and sent first to them, but also cruelly put Him to death; and these cannot call God their Father, since the Lord confounds and confutes them, saying, 'You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies' (Jn 8:44). And by Isaiah the prophet God cries out in wrath, '"Children have I reared and brought up, but they have rebelled against me. The ox knows its owner, and the donkey its master's crib, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand." Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, children who deal corruptly! They have forsaken the LORD, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are utterly estranged' (Is 1:2-4). When we pray, we Christians say 'Our Father;' because He has begun to be ours....Nor can a sinful people be a son; but the name of sons is attributed to those to whom remission of sins is granted, and to those to whom immortality is promised anew, in the words of our Lord Himself: 'Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever' (Jn 8:34-35).
 
"How great is the Lord's indulgence! How great His condescension and the bounty of His goodness towards us, that He wished us to pray in God's sight so as to call God Father. In so doing we call ourselves sons of God, even as Christ is the Son of God, a name which none of us would dare to venture to use in prayer, unless He Himself had allowed us to pray this way! Remember that when we call God Father, we ought to act as God's children; so to the degree that we find pleasure in considering God our Father, He might also be able to find pleasure in us. Let us converse as temples of God, that it may be plain that God dwells in us (1Co 3:16). Let not our doings be degenerate from the Spirit; so that we who have begun to be heavenly and spiritual, may consider and do nothing but spiritual and heavenly things; since the Lord God Himself has said, 'Far be it from me, for those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed' (1Sa 2:30). The blessed apostle also has laid down in his epistle: 'You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body' (1Co 6:19-20)." 

Cyprian of Carthage, On the Lord's Prayer, 10-11
 
Prayer

Our Father in heaven, Your Son, our Savior, has called us sons in Him. Grant that we might ever call on You as children call on their dear Father. How exalted you make us when you give us the name of son; and that is what we are! Through the Son's obedience unto death, we have been set free to be Your true children. In our glorious freedom we come before You with our every need in prayer. Thank You for opening Your heart to us. Amen.

 

For the Latin American mission conference in Guatemala this week, that the Lord's will would be done on earth as it is in heaven, and that all who travel to it would be kept safe

 

For the family and friends of Marvin Kluttz, whose remains will be laid to rest in Christian funeral services tomorrow, that they might be encouraged by Christ's power over death

 

For the call committee of Memorial Lutheran Church, as they seek God's man to become the Associate Pastor of the congregation, that they would seek the Holy Spirit's will for God's people

Art: Eyck, Jan van  The Adoration of the Lamb (1425-1429) 

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