“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him.
Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have
a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is
found.’ So they began to celebrate (Luke 15:22-24).”
It may seem strange that during this week when we are poignantly aware of the
movement of Jesus toward the cross we should emphasize this passage which points to a
celebration. The passage quoted above comes from the parable we have been considering
through Lent, the Parable of the Compassionate father. Its theme is the joy of the father
over the return of his lost son. We are considering this passage now on Tuesday, just three
days from “Good Friday” where our attention will be wholly turned to the crucifixion. How
can we be thinking about joy when we are so close to the cross?
The answer to this question is the same way Jesus did. The author of the New
Testament book of Hebrews asks us to focus our eyes on Jesus, “who for the joy set before
him endured the cross, scorning its shame…” The cross is, for Christians, the ultimate
symbol of the power of God. That is a remarkable thing in view of the fact that up to the
time of our Lord’s death, it was nothing but a symbol of suffering and death. But Easter
Sunday changed all of that. Jesus was not resuscitated after a rough spell. He was raised
from death to life.
We who are Christians live in the hope that the last word in all things is joy. Beyond
our disappointments, frustrations and fears, joy awaits.