Dear Easter People,
“ALLELUIA! CHRIST IS RISEN! …”
When I was in school, there was an independent studies class called “Christ in Film.” In the class, students would watch popular movies and look for gospel messages, intended or not. The class helped identify means to engage popular culture with the gospel in non-threatening ways. For example – Superman … a man with incredible powers comes to earth from the heavens to save mankind from evil. One might say Superman/Clark Kent represents, only to a point mind you, Jesus. He’s a mild-mannered reporter (Jesus was fully man … hungry, tired, weeping) and a super hero with incredible powers to save others (Jesus was fully God … miracles and His resurrection attest to that). If you found someone interested in Superman, you might be able use it as an entry point to introduce them to a real Superman … Jesus.
Jesus also used popular culture to teach. Through parables He helped people relate His teaching to things they could experience. The characters, objects, and places in His stories often represent real situations.
The Parable of the Generous Father (aka The Prodigal Son) has three main characters … the father and his two sons. It’s pretty easy to see who they represent. The father represents God the Father. The young son represents those who fall into sins of immorality … the tax collectors and sinners Jesus was talking to (Luke 15:1). The older son represents the self-righteous, holier-than-thou who think they deserve salvation … the Pharisees and scribes who’re also present (Luke 15:2). The banquet party represents the kingdom of heaven. The father welcomes the younger son, who has repented of his sin, into the banquet … in fact, he throws the banquet for his repentant son. The father also longs for his older son to repent of his sins of self-righteousness and lack of forgiveness toward his brother. But this son, at least as far as we can tell from the parable, refuses and misses the banquet.
But Jesus is also speaking to us in this parable. We’re all sinners who fall short of God’s glory, yet God the Father, on account of His Son, Jesus Christ, longs for all of us to turn away from sin, like the younger son, and come into His heavenly, eternal banquet. God our Father, generous to a fault, gives us everything we have in this world … our life, our talents and abilities, and our possessions – like he gave the youngest son his part of the inheritance without any merit of his own – to be used in accordance with His will. He hopes we’ll use these gifts generously to support the needs of His church and those who lack necessities of life. And for those times we waste the gifts … or withhold them … He comes to us and generously forgives us. Then, by the power of the Holy Spirit, helps us to grow in our generous love and support to others.
Ask God to help you follow Him in faith through the generous use of the time, talent, and treasure He has blessed you with. So that through you, many others will enter into the eternal, heavenly banquet party.
“… HE IS RISEN INDEED! ALLELUIA!”
In the Love of our Risen Savior,