In a sermon on the fulfilled family John MacArthur says, “[Family] is the place of intimacy. It is the place of joy. It is the place of memories that build the foundation of life. It is the place of love. It is the place of socialization. It is the place of morality. It is the place of security. It is where you build confidence.” Family is important. Humans were created not to live in isolation but to live in communion with fellow human beings.
When sin entered into the world the entire creation was put under a curse. God’s response? He creates a family. God would bring the nations to himself through the family of Abraham. But when this family fell into idolatry they went into exile and experienced God’s judgment firsthand. God promised his people that he would not utterly forsake them but they would one day return from exile, God would draw near to his people, he would forgive their sins and the nations would come to know the one and true living God.
When Jesus came on the scene summoning people to repent and believe in the gospel he was challenging them to become the new people of God, the returned from exiles ones. However, Jesus’ kingdom plans were different than other kingdom plans. Jesus’ way was the way of welcome. We see this clearly in Luke 15, “Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, ‘This man receives sinners and eats with them.’” (Luke 15.1-2). Jesus was welcoming the lowest of the low to be part of the reconstituted people, or family, of God and the Pharisees didn’t like it. Jesus responds by telling three parables. All of them speak of God’s grace in welcoming repentant sinner’s to himself.
The prodigal son, in particular, also contains hints that the return-from-exile is happening right under the Pharisees noses and they are missing out on it. Jesus tells a story about a rebellious son going into a far country and returning to his father. In Jesus’ welcoming of repentant sinner’s to himself, the ‘great return’ was taking place. He was building a family around himself.
All those who see their need of Jesus are welcomed to come. Christ builds the true family of God. So here we find true intimacy, love, socialization, morality, security, and confidence. Yet another reason why I love Christianity!