March 9, 2015
I Peter 1:18-21
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
The Three-Act Play known as the Prodigal Son seems to close in Luke 15 after the end of Act Two which tells us of the elder brother – obedient in his self-righteousness because he wanted to gain control of his father’s wealth! And we saw how he failed in his familial duty to seek his prodigal younger brother and bring him home from the pig sty in a far country, reconciling him to his father and family. He represents the self-righteous “…Pharisees and scribes…” in Luke 15:2 who failed to seek out for God “…the tax collectors and sinners…” (Luke 15:1), represented by the younger brother. If in Luke 15 the final curtain of the play comes down, then we are left with a terrible dilemma – the younger son has repented and is reconciled to the father, but the elder son is still estranged!
But we have gone on to Act Three. This Act is not part of the parable, but it is implied by the Lord: Jesus Christ is to true Elder Brother who “…has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10). In the last blog we asked, “What hardships did Jesus endure to seek and to save us? What were the costs He paid to redeem us?” The hardships included the King of glory leaving heaven and coming all the way to earth to be a human being, a submissive servant! The costs are summarized in I Peter 1:18 through 21:
…you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your
aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious
blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was
foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last
times for you, who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead
and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
We are “…redeemed…with the precious blood of Christ….” Act Three is written in the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ! This is what it cost Him – His life! When we think of Jesus being crucified, we focus on the horrible physical suffering through which He went:
• He was so distressed as He prayed in the garden that He sweat blood (Luke 22:44).
• He was arrested, bound, & manhandled to the high priest’s house (John 18:12, 13).
• He was struck by a temple soldier at Annas’ residence (John 18:22).
• They spit upon Him and hit Him after the illegal trial at Caiaphas’ house (Mark 14:65).
• The Jewish leaders bound Him again & shoved Him to Pilate’s palace (Matthew 27:2).
• He was taken to King Herod whose troops contemptuously mocked Him (Luke 23:11).
• Pilate condemned Him to be whipped and then crucified (Mark 15:15).
• Roman soldiers crowned Him with thorns, robed Him and beat Him (Mark 15:17-20).
• He carried His cross until Simon of Cyrene was recruited (John 19:17; Mark 15:21).
• He was crucified on Golgotha, nailed to the cross (Matthew 27:35; John 20:25).
• He was speared through His side and into His heart by a Roman soldier (John 19:34).
But more than the physical abuse and suffering, Jesus was “…made…to be sin for us…” (II Corinthians 5:21), taking upon Himself “…the sins of the whole world.” (I John 2:2 – KJV). He “…Himself bore our sins in His own body on the [cross]…” (I Peter 2:24). Since “…the wrath of God abides on him…who does not believe the Son…” (John 3:36) to have his sins washed away “…in His [Christ’s] own blood…” (Revelation 1:5), the wrath of God was poured out upon Jesus Christ as He was on the cross! I believe that somehow Jesus suffered eternity in hell in the last three hours of the crucifixion when “…there was darkness over all the land.” (Matthew 27:45). Is it any wonder that He who had never been separated from the Father (see John 8:29), when He was made sin and sinner, He cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” (Mark 15:34).
That was the price Jesus paid “…to save that which was lost…” (Luke 19:10) – physical and spiritual death – for us! As it says in II Corinthians 8:9, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.”
Now here is the irony of this parable: The younger brother tried to gain control of his destiny through rebellion and sin. He was obviously lost! But he repented and found his way back to his father. He would forever enjoy his father’s wealth! The elder brother tried to gain control of his destiny by being good and obedient, but he remained estranged from his father and the father’s riches! He too was lost! Yes, both of them were lost and needed to repent!
Both groups of listeners – the tax collectors and the sinners, and the Pharisees and scribes – were lost and needed to repent. And Jesus – the true Elder Brother – made the way for all to be reconciled to the Father. But it was much easier for the first group to recognize their need of the Savior because they knew they were sinners! Self-righteousness and pride is much harder to overcome, and kept most of the second group far away from God!
Where are you in all this? Have you recognized there is an Act Three written with Jesus’ own blood? Has the true Elder Brother found you? Are you made clean and acceptable to the Father by His blood?