Recap from Sunday: As Dr. Johnson said, "To be happy at home is the end of all human endeavour." (1st to be happy to prepare for being happy in our own real home hereafter; 2nd in the meantime to be happy in our houses). - CS Lewis, from his Letters
I'm talking about those incredible moments. It's like a worship experience - the kind that leaves you feeling depressed at the end because it's all over - the kind that makes everything else seem so dissatisfying. A concert, a show. A love interest. A family reunion. A vacation to Maui. The more incredible the experience, the more our longing for it, the deeper the pain of separation from it. All you want to do is try to recapture the moment. Boredom sets in. As Marie Antoinette said, "Nothing tastes."
The illusiveness of personal satisfaction. C.S. Lewis, a 20th Century Christian writer wrote in his book, The Weight of Glory saying how this is not the world we were built for. We feel lost, alienated, and homeless because there is nothing in this world that can ever satisfy our deepest longings and needs, no matter how hard or how long we look. How is this possible? One reason, perhaps is, God left us a a kind of memory trace from the collective consciousness of the human race back to Adam and Eve. We remember the Garden, what life was like at the foot of God. We remember the beauty of God. We remember the creative opportunities, the knowledge and wisdom, peace and satisfaction that we once had. We weren’t there, but we know and we long to have it once again.
This is our human condition - exile. And Jesus evokes it with a parable of a lost son. Because of our sins, we are lost and are in exile and long for a place we can call home. But how can we find it and how can we get there? God sent Jesus, our true elder brother, all the way to earth to rescue us from the exile of our sin and restore us to full communion with God. In those days, it was the older brother’s responsibility to keep the family together. He was suppose to be his brother's keeper like Cain was to Abel. But in this parable, the older son doesn’t go looking for his younger brother. Why not? To find his brother might mean losing everything, perhaps even having to sell his share of the inheritance in order to find him. Why his expense? Because the younger son took his share of his inheritance. Everything else was to go to the older son. He's the only heir left.
Unfortunately, the elder brother loved his possessions more than he loved his younger brother - and it was impossible for the father to bring the younger son back but at the elder brother's expense. Truth is, like the younger son, the elder brother was also lost, dissatisfied, and in exile. Point: we are all prodigal children who are in need of an elder brother who is willing to give everything in order to bring us home.
But where can we find this brother? Jesus did something that the elder brother in this story couldn’t do. Jesus left his home in order to look for us. He left his heavenly kingdom - not at the risk of losing everything, but knowing he would lose everything. On the cross, Jesus loses fellowship and communion with the Father. He is forsaken and cast out of the family, so that we can be brought into the family. We have a perfect and true elder brother in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Isa 25:6-8 "On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine— the best of meats and the finest of wines. On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The LORD has spoken."
That's our future. The greatest feast, fellowship. When Jesus brings us home, he will give us an ultimate homecoming. I imagine that moment walking through the fields towards the walls of heavenly city. The Father God running towards me in the distance like a madman unable to contain himself. The true elder brother opens the door. I faint. And he carries me in to that ultimate feast weeping with joy.
The new communion. When we take the Lord's Supper, we get a foretaste of the future homecoming feast for all believers when we will celebrate the return of full intimacy between God and us. Hallelujah!