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[19] I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants. (Luke 15:19)

Waiting in the room for my parents to come pick me up was the loneliest feeling in the world. I was replaying my offense, feeling shame, and imagining the punishment that was certainly going to come my way. Earlier that day, I walked into Target and attempted to steal 7 CDs. Not my brightest moment and definitely not something that I’m proud of. Facing my parents was the hardest part. I didn’t know how they were going to react, I only knew they weren’t going to be happy with me. When I heard my dad say, “I’m so disappointed in you” the weight of my stupidity hit me like a ton of bricks. I had let my family down. I had failed. It was no one else’s fault, it was all me.

When the younger son claimed, “I’m no longer worthy to be called your son,” he expressed something many of us can relate to. We’ve made decisions asserting our own dominance and rebellion. We’ve lived contrary to the overtures of Divine love. The younger son’s assertion comes from a place of regret, shame, and realization. He’s coming to terms with what he’s done. But, is he correct? Is he no longer worthy to be called a son? Yes and no. How do we become a son or a daughter? Well, we are born into a family. There’s nothing we do. We’re just born. The son is still a son. An estranged one, but a son nonetheless. What he’s expressing is that he has forfeited the rights and blessing of being a son by wishing his father dead. In that sense, he is unworthy. He didn’t hold up his end of the familial covenant – but he’s still a son.

For most of us, the question is where do we go when we recognize, “I’ve sinned against heaven and against you, and I’m no longer worthy to be called your son”? That truth has the potential to lead us to one of two places. Like Judas, it can lead us to the place of despair. That realization took him to such a dark place that he took his own life (Matthew 27:1-10). The apostle Peter came to a similar place after denying Jesus three times on the night of his betrayal. However, in the midst of his brokenness, he encountered Jesus and found grace (John 21:15-19). Despair or grace. Those are the two possible pathways after we come to terms with who we are and what we’ve done.

When the apostle John wrote of the mission of Jesus in John 1:12-13, he stated, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” The mission of Jesus was a familial mission. He was, by grace, giving humanity the ability to once again become the sons and daughters of God. We are unworthy, but still have great worth in the Father’s eyes. We have such great worth, that he would send his own son – to redeem us as his sons and daughters. Jesus knows that adoption into the family of God lies at the pinnacle of humanity’s hierarchy of needs. There is no greater longing, no greater power, and no greater blessing than to be welcomed back into the family of God. The message of the gospel is that the unworthy prodigals still have great worth, and they, by faith, are welcomed back into the Father’s family. We can therefore admit our brokenness and then be ushered into his grace. Take some time today and confess your sin to God. Sit in it. Admit it. Hear his heart and his love. [/vc_column_text][us_separator height=”25px” size=”custom”][vc_column_text]

By Ryan Paulson  

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