Grace and Justice
“But while he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.” The father in the Prodigal Son story was filled with love and compassion for this rebellious son while he was still far off. The prodigal son had not made his confession and apology yet. He had said nothing, but his father was moved at the very sight of him. This is not unlike the character of God. God sees us in all of our sinfulness yet looks at us with loving and grace-filled eyes.
God’s grace can be offensive and appalling to some of us. Where is the justice in forgiveness of this nature? Possibly the justice is rendered through the lives that we must live in this battered world. God may be of the mindset that our personal famines and the task of feeding swine is just enough. In this sense, grace does not abrogate justice but rather coexists with it.
- What are some reasons that Jesus had in telling this parable?
- What does this parable say about the nature of God?
- Which one of the characters do you relate to most: the father, the elder son, the prodigal son? Why?
- What does this story say about judgment on those who repent?
How Do I Act?
- Talk to someone about God’s grace and justice. How are they both possible simultaneously? Talk about how we show God’s grace and justice simultaneously and about other times when we chose one above the other. Discuss the reasons for treating some situations one way and other situations in other ways.
- Do a contemporary role play of this parable with a group at church. Discuss the role play when finished. Do you feel the father’s actions can be similar in this day and time? Be sure to include everyone in the roleplay.
- Give your own personal definition of grace. Is there an experience in your own life that demonstrates your understanding of grace? Journal about it. Look up the word grace in several dictionaries including a Bible dictionary. Think about the difference in the various definitions and how the concept of grace is defined by society.
- Pray for those families you know who are estranged from one another. Pray for their reconciliation and healing. You may want to pray for a different family member each day. Focus on that person’s attitude, spiritual journey, job or school life and their skills of relating to others.