Hi, friends. Lately, I’ve been reading the Gospels again (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). As I am more mentally, physically, and spiritually mature than I’ve been in past readings, I’ve realized how the overabundant grace of Jesus infuriates people repeatedly because they are stuck on this worldly, self-righteous perception of fairness. Today, those who claim to follow Jesus are often guilty of the same hard heart.
The theme of generosity recurs a countless number of times in the Gospels, so I will provide just three examples:
- Luke 7:36-50— A woman was anointing Jesus’ feet and bathing them with her hair as she wept. The Pharisee eating with Jesus thought to himself that, if Jesus were really a prophet, He would know the woman is a sinner. Jesus then tells a parable of a creditor who forgave two of his debtors–one who owed a lot, one who owed a little–and asked, which debtor would be more grateful? The Pharisee rightly guessed the one who owed a lot would most appreciate the creditor’s mercy. In the end, Jesus says, “Her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love.”
- Matthew 20:1-16— Jesus tells the parable of a landowner who hired some labourers to tend to his vineyard for the day. That afternoon, he hired more labourers to finish out the day. At the day’s end, the all-day labourers were jealous and angry that the half-day labourers made the same wage as them. The landowner said to one of the all-day labourers, “Friend, I’ve done you no wrong; did you not agree to this wage for your day’s work? Are you envious of my generosity?”
- Luke 15:11-32— Jesus tells the parable of a father with two sons. The younger son asked for his father’s inheritance early, then he went out and squandered it all on sinful living. Meanwhile, the older brother lived with the father and was a loyal son. A famine struck the land, and the younger son returned home in desperation, planning to work for his father to earn food; however, when his father saw him coming up the road, he put together a party and welcomed him home with joy. The older son was jealous and angry, but the father said, “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice because your brother was lost and is now found.”
Do you side with the Pharisee, the all-day labourer, the loyal son? Their arguments are more rational.
Did the sinful woman deserve to be forgiven? Did the half-day labourers deserve the wage of the all-day labourers? Did the prodigal son deserve to be welcomed home?
Forgiveness, mercy, and generosity–summed up by the word “grace”– are highly irrational. Jesus didn’t ration His love, and He condemned those who thought He should.
In the words of Rev. James Howell, Jesus doesn’t bend to our “human schemes of deserving.” These parables use different situations/symbols to convey a point: we are equally loved. Like the prodigal son’s father, He welcomes all his children back home with open arms, no matter the circumstances that precede them.
A lot of credit goes to Agent X for his biting satires that compel me to examine the contempt in my heart. Fat Beggars School of Prophets ministers to the homeless, some of whom might identify as the younger son or the woman washing feet with her hair. Though, of course, plenty of upstanding church-goers are the Pharisee.
Jesus gave it all. Do you know how to give love and forgiveness without counting the cost? We must pray for the Lord to show us grace.
Thanks for reading. God bless you!