“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.