Bible Reading: 2 Corinthians 5:9-21
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” [Matthew 11:28-30 The Message]
The last picture of the father in Jesus’ parable of the lost son is of him pleading with the elder brother to come to the feast [Luke 15:28]. The elder son is now the lost son! He has lost all his filial feelings and reveals his hard, judgmental, hypocritical spirit. The father never pleaded with the son lost in the world, but is pleading for the son lost in the house.
The father did not command him to come to the feast – he could have demanded that the servants drag him to the feast but the father still maintains the right that His sons have freedom to choose. The Greek tense in this verse indicates that the father did not make just one request, but that he kept on pleading with him!
The heavenly Father is still pleading for religious and self-righteous people, bound by slavery to religious rules and regulations to come and have an intimate relationship with Him. The elder son worked hard, obeyed in everything and was submissive but he was slave. Matthew 11:28-30 in the Message Bible powerfully portrays Jesus calling those who have been enslaved by religious tradition and laws, even “burned out on religion” to come to Him. He longs for them to enjoy their relationship with the Father and to experience “the unforced rhythms of grace”.
In much of the Old Testament, we see God pleading with his rebellious and yet religious people. “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” But you would not” [Isaiah 30:15]. In a similar way, Jesus pleads with tears for Jerusalem but they would heed Him. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing” [Matthew 23:37].
Why did the people of Israel and the inhabitants of Jerusalem not take heed when God pleaded with them and wanted so much to bless them?
What do you think it means when Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:20 that it as though God is pleading through us for people to be reconciled to Him?