Last week I began the book of Matthew. This afternoon I picked-up where I had last left-off, bringing me through the parable of The Rich Man and on to The Vineyard Workers.
I slowly read through the familiar stories. Drinking in the words of Jesus like cool water on a hot day; not getting enough fast enough.
Pondering and re-reading the parable of the Vineyard Works...
...So those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last."
My bibles commentary read...
This parable is similar to the parable of the Lost Son (Luke 15:11-32). In both, God's grace is shown to two parties while one grumbles about unjust treatment.
Skipping ahead to Luke 15:11-32 I read...
“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.[a]’
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!’”
I sank in my seat, and read it again...
...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.’...
I was the lost son. The lost daughter.
The parable of the lost son demonstrates God's love for the lost and the joy he experiences when they return. It also allegorizes Jesus' ministry. The father represents God, the younger brother represents the tax collectors and sinners to whom Jesus ministered, and the older brother represents the religious leaders.
A part of my story.
The final years prior to Christ, the years that brought me to the depths of low, were made of actions that bought the approval of those that surrounded me. I had left home and made myself out to be a successfully driven woman. On the outside I looked just as the world said I should. The way I lived looked rich.
I was a liar.
Eight credit cards bought me things that made me look good. Thousands and thousands of dollars in debt is what you couldn't see. The pretty blouse and latest hand-bag masked a lie.
Like the younger son, I took what riches I had and splurged them on treasures; materialistic goods, wild living. Before I could catch-up with my actions I had lost the race and was left in the wilderness to starve. The actions that I thought would bring me happiness, joy, and self-worth didn't. Having the things that the world said made me rich, didn't. Me being the ruler over my life cost me everything.
The reason why Jesus told The Rich Man to go and sell everything was because his wealth and security had become his god. He went away sad because he couldn't part with those things. His heart was for this world, not for God.
While I believed in God, the beating of my heart was for what the latest Vogue magazine had to say or sell. Not Him.
And then I was broke. Bank account and spirit. I had done what man had said to do and it left me as a rotting corpse.
19 “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be...
24 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. Matthew 6:19-24
Having lost everything, I gave up on what hadn't worked and came home.
But He saw me coming, and He ran to me with open arms before my foot could reach the threshold.
...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...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.’
I was dead but returned to life. I was lost but was then found.
To know that He is celebrating my return brings me to my knees.
...for this daughter of mine was dead and has now returned to life. She was lost, but now she is found...
Today, now being able to see the grand picture of a part of my life before and after Christ leaves me struck by His very power, love, and saving grace.
8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.
I was and still am a broken sinner. But I have been found. I have been brought back to life and my sin no longer has a hold on me. Praise God!