January 1, Saturday

REPOST Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on January 1, 2015.

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“A Story Worth Retelling”

Luke 15:11-32 (ESV)

And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. [12] And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. [13] Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. [14] And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. [15] So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. [16] And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything. [17] “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! [18] I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. [19] I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ [20] And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. [21] And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ [22] But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. [24] For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate. [25] “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. [26] And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. [27] And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ [28] But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, [29] but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. [30] But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ [31] And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. [32] It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”

Luke 15:1 (ESV): “Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. [2] And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, ‘This man receives sinners and eats with them.’”

Certain stories are worth retelling, though their meaning may be slightly different when told to different audiences. My favorite story I love to retell is what my father told his Hindu doctor, when told that he had only four months to live because of terminal lung cancer. 

Going back to today’s passage, isn’t it amazing that if Luke hadn’t included the oft-cited Parable of the Lost Son in his Gospel, no one would’ve known about it?  When this story was first shared by Jesus, his listeners were all Jews consisting of “tax collectors and sinners,’” and “the Pharisees and the teachers of the law” (15:1-2), respectively.  The legalistic older son represented the latter who mercilessly judged the reckless younger son who represented the former.   However, when Luke, the only Gentile writer among all the biblical writers, retold this story, it was addressed to Theophilus (1:3), “the normal title for a high official in the Roman government” (Barclay).  So, in the context of making appeals to the Gentiles, the older son represented the Israelites who had no love for the Gentiles whom the younger son represented.  Subsequently, the original message aimed at the Pharisees—“Don’t be judgmental”—was now applied to the entire Israel; and the promise of God’s love and acceptance of Jewish sinners was now extended to the Gentiles who now saw that Israel’s God was not a territorial deity but the God of all nations.   And that’s a story worth retelling!

As for my father, he said to his doctor originally from India, “You say cancer; I say no problem. I like Jesus Christ. God blessed my life; I go when God calls.” The Hindu doctor, instead of being offended, was moved, saying, “I am happy to be here, to be in the moment with you because people do not respond this way with this kind of devastating news.”  When I retell this powerful story, I say it like this: “My dad’s apologetics was quite simple: When you get terminal cancer, then, tell the doctor, ‘No problem because of Jesus.’”  That’s nothing like my apologetics, full of cleaver arguments that may titillate the mind but not much else.” As we start the New Year, let’s really live for Jesus, building many memories worth sharing with our loved ones.   

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I praise You and glorify You on this first day of 2022.  My heart is full of gratitude and thanksgiving because of Your continuous and ceaseless love toward me in Christ.  May this year be full of special memories in my walk with You, so that I can tell of your greatness to others.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 1

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