I’ll get up, go to my father, and say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. I’m no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired hands.”
Reaching the end of what we believe to be the limits of our humanity is the beginning of what God calls ‘human.’ When we have given up on our idea of identity, who we think we are or need to be, that might just be the beginning of what God calls being human. To be fully alive is to let go of that which is already dead. The younger brother’s version of being a son was over. He was rehearsing his repentance, letting go of his idea of what it meant to be a son. The boy would rather be a slave to God than a son by himself. This is the beginning of the beginning. This is the dress rehearsal to real life. This is the moment before the curtain is lifted, and we see what life could truly be because we discover who the Father truly is.
The young brother was willing to get up and go to the father, to at least rehearse repentance. He understood his wrongs. He understood the necessity for a change. The Father deserved so much more; He deserved an earlier repentance. But no human has ever repented early enough to suffice for what the Father deserves. Our rehearsals of repentance come short of the performance of His grace.
The son was right: we are no longer worthy to be called children of God. We lost that title a long time ago. Whether we know it or not, in comparison to His holiness we don’t deserve anything. But grace is not the giving of what we deserve but the lavishing of upon us of what we cannot fathom. The Father’s grace is unforgivable, shocking and unconscionable.
The son’s speech was nice, it was necessary, it was the least the Father deserved, but the son was about to find out that the Father's grace is far too extravagant for any repentance the son could bring.
// Pastor Josh Kelsey