Why spread the Good news?

This devotional is written by Sally Watson. Sally is the Director of Operations at St Mary's.

Luke 15:1-2, 11-32

Parable of the Lost Sheep

15 Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. 2 This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them!

Parable of the Lost Son
11 To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: "A man had two sons. 12 The younger son told his father, 'I want my share of your estate now before you die.' So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.

13 "A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. 14 About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. 15 He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. 16 The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.

17 "When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will go home to my father and say, "Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, 19 and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant."'

20 "So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.'

22 "But his father said to the servants, 'Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.' So the party began.

25 "Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, 26 and he asked one of the servants what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother is back,' he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.'

28 "The older brother was angry and wouldn't go in. His father came out and begged him, 29 but he replied, 'All these years I've slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. 30 Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!'

31 "His father said to him, 'Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. 32 We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!'"


Reading this parable again, I appreciate the simple way in which it conveys God's all-embracing love for us, whether we are at the end of ourselves or think we are doing well. There is something gloriously liberating in being reminded that God finds us loveable at our best and at our worst and at all the everyday normal in between. That we can't earn his love or lose it and that he is full of mercy towards us.

The lost son is lavished with love by his father, who is on the lookout for his return. He is not just accepted back but he is celebrated with a love that overflows and is not measured out according to what he has done. The older son is loved like this too but has perhaps taken it for granted and not treasured or enjoyed it. I imagine most of us can feel what it is like to be in both brothers' shoes.

The Life Course starts soon and I marvel at people's braveness in asking their friends, colleagues etc and relish how wonderful it is when people come on the Life Course. This is always a joy and privilege to be part of. It is God who woos people and draws them to himself and gives us the boldness to talk our friends about him. Let's ask him to show us who the spirit is already working in, knowing that we can have confidence in his all-embracing love. Often new people come to our church and say it feels like home. Let's pray for the spirit to be at work on the Life Course so that for at least some people, it might be a time of coming home just like the lost son.

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