Ep.162: Party-Time Jesus.

Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray With Me”.

In Luke 15, when the prodigal son returned, his father threw a welcome-home party. When his older brother, who was busy working the farm, smelled the beef barbeque and heard the party music, he was angry. His father was rewarding the prodigal’s evil behaviour instead of censoring and correcting it. Any sensible father would assign the prodigal a stretch of probation with hard labor to ensure he’d really changed. 

The brother said to the father, “This son of yours who wasted your wealth with prostitutes shows up and you throw a party? What about me? I’ve slaved away for you all these years, and I don’t even get a skinny little goat to celebrate with my friends. Isn’t my faithfulness worth more to you than his wastefulness?” 

At a retreat once, I had a similar feeling. The man who got all the interest and attention was a guy who had been an alcoholic and had wrecked his marriage and finances and family with drink and sex and drugs; and then he’d had an amazing and liberating conversion. What a great story! But was anyone interested in my story of plugging away at this Christian thing for thirty years with no tales to tell of a miraculous deliverance or remarkable results?

Perhaps Party-Time Jesus has a message for me and for other older brothers. We have been busy working in God’s field, holding down a job, supporting the church, raising a family. We’ve been serious about living righteously and avoiding the temptations of alcohol, sex and drugs. Why does the father throw parties for prodigals instead of showing a bit of support for us? Aren’t we the ones implementing his program here on earth? 

But Jesus kept showing up at parties and telling stories about parties.
..He made buckets of wine for the wedding at Cana. 
..He went to parties with Levi the tax collector and Simon the Pharisee. He partied with almost anybody!

And in his stories,  
..The shepherd partied when he found his lost sheep.
..The father partied when the prodigal came home.
..The servants waited with lamps lit for their master to come home from, you guessed it, a wedding party (Luke 12:36).
..Jesus starts one story, “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who prepared a wedding banquet for his son” (Mat. 22:1). 
..And on the night before he died, Jesus was feasting with his crew.

What is it with Jesus and parties?  

Let’s pray. 

Our father, we are like the elder son. We resent that we work long and hard for you, but all the attention and fun goes to people with stories of deep sin and miracle salvation.

Ah, Jesus, perhaps we who focus on righteousness need a change of heart. Have we grown bitter, hard, and unlovely in our pursuit of righteousness? (Harry Emerson Fosdick. Meaning of Faith. New York: Association Press, 1917. Cited from Good Press ebooks edition, 2019). Pull up the weeds of resentment that grow in us. Help us to accept our unremarkable lives as  your gift. Teach us to party with the prodigals who come home. May we be glad with everyone you welcome into your big house.

And most of all, as we work for your kingdom, help us to know the father. For though we do the father’s work, we are prodigals from the father’s heart. Teach us to come home to the heart of God.

Amen. 

I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.