Series: “PLEASE COME HOME: The Prodigal’s Journey from Shame to Grace”
Sunday, October 29, 2017: “BIG BROTHER SYNDROME—Part Two” • Pastor David R. Stokes
All four of the Gospels in the New Testament emphasize unique aspects of the life and ministry of Jesus. Matthew talks much about the King and Kingdom. In Mark’s account, Jesus is pictured as the servant. The Apostle John highlights the deity of Christ—how the Messiah is God in the flesh. The Gospel of Luke seems to specialize in the “humanity” of Jesus, particularly his outreach to outcasts. Hard cases. Messed up lives. Publicans. Sinners. Prostitutes. And, at every turn, these losers became winners. We see redemption, recovery, and regeneration.
But there is one grouping of people who never seem to find their way. They seem to be too-far-gone. No road back. No, it’s not the notorious law-breakers. It’s actually the meticulous law-keepers that had the hardest time with Jesus and his message of grace and mercy. He talked of love, but they wanted to hear about law. He talked about grace, but they wanted to focus on good works. He talked about mercy, but they wanted to talk about their own merit.
They were religious—and very lost.
When Jesus finished his parable about two sons with a searing indictment of the older brother’s self-righteous indignation, it hit his chronic critics right between the eyes. And sadly, just as his parable never resolved with the older son joining the grace party, most Pharisees never made the leap from law to grace. A few did—notably people like Nicodemus, who was “born again”—but most of them remained opposed to Jesus even after his death and resurrection. They even seemed to double-down.
That’s the way it is with spiritual pride.
- Why did the Pharisees oppose Jesus?
- How often is “church” about keeping the “saved” happy rather than reaching the “lost”?
- Am I willing to face and confront Pharisee-tendencies in my own heart?