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2 Corinthians 5:21: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

The tradition was call Kezazah. Everyone in Jesus’ day would’ve been familiar with it and everyone would’ve been anticipating the way the story would end. When Jesus tells the parable about a son rejecting his father, the expected end would have been Kezazah. The word Kezazah literally means “cutting off.” If someone left the village, disgraced its inhabitants and then tried to come back, the villagers would take a clay pot, meet them on the road, and break the pot at their feet. It was their way of communicating, “You’ve broken the covenant and you are no longer welcomed here. Our relationship is over – it has been irreversibly shattered.” Everyone anticipated that Jesus’ story ending with Kezazah. But it doesn’t.

In Jesus’ parable, the father runs to meet the son on the road. He’s not carrying a pot; his hands are empty and his arms are extended offering embrace. I’ve often wondered if the father is watching and running to meet his son so that no one can get there before him to ‘defend his honor’ and enact the ceremony of Kezazah. This story turns the generally accepted perception of God on its head. God is not the angry, vindictive father punishing his son for his sin and breaking the pot declaring “unaccepted” or “unclean.” In this story, the father absorbs the shards of fractured relationship and endures the pain of rejected love. He’s taking the slap-in-the-face in order to offer the redemption his son needs. The father embraces a posture of disgrace to bring us back to his grace. The Apostle Paul echoed this truth in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

The father’s embrace of the younger son is identical to God’s embrace of us. It’s “his kindness that leads us to repentance.” (Romans 2:4) It’s his mercy that draws us close. When God sees you and I coming home, he runs to meet us – not with a pot in hand, but with the open arms of grace. And we are called to imitate him. Every one of us carries ‘a pot.’ What are we going to do with it? When people wrong us, do we break the pot? When people hurt us, do we shatter our clay vessel? When people are our enemy, how do we respond? Our world is littered with the debris of broken pots, but Jesus is raising up an army of people with open arms rather than broken pots.

Today, take some time and read through Romans 8:1-2 – putting your name in the passage. Only when we recognized we’ve been accepted by the King, can we can hold out the King’s acceptance to our families, our workplaces, our neighborhoods, and his world. [/vc_column_text][us_separator height=”25px” size=”custom”][vc_column_text]

By Ryan Paulson

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