One of the most well known parables of Jesus comes from Luke 15:11-32. It’s the story of the Prodigal Son. Before you quit reading, I want to look at this story a little differently than before. As you know, he took his inheritance early, moved away, and wasted it on wild living and prostitutes. In verse 16, he was so broke and hungry that he had to feed pigs and even their slop looked appealing to him. The end of that verse tells us everything: “But no one gave him anything” (NLT).
Here’s a guy, who when he had money, was throwing it around. He was surrounded by people who enjoyed him buying their drinks, paying for their meals, and throwing parties they would attend. When he was broke, hungry, and homeless, those people were nowhere to be found. Why? Because we despise people who are poor. We enjoy being around people who have money and are generous with it, but we tend to hide from the poor, especially if we know them.
Think about it. Even his own brother despised him because he was poor. In verse 28, it says, “The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in.” When his father asked why, part of his excuse was that his brother had squandered his money. When the chips are down, sometimes even your family avoids you. Most of us have been at this point in our lives. Broke. Hungry. Hurting. What happened? As the country song by Tracy Lawrence goes, “You find out who your friends are.”
Proverbs 14:20-21 rejects the kind of behavior that runs to the rich and hides from the poor. It says, “The poor are despised even by their neighbors, while the rich have many ‘friends.’ It is a sin to belittle one’s neighbor; blessed are those who help the poor.” To me, the parable of the Prodigal Son is as much about us running to the poor as it is about our Father running to us when we confess our sins. If you know someone who’s had a bad turn of events, quit avoiding them, and find a way to run to them in their time of need.
When we go through difficult times, we look to family and friends to be there for us. We need them to be our strength and to hold us up. Imagine though, what it would be like in the darkest time of your life if your family and friends turned on you. Imagine if they insulted you instead of offering you hope. Imagine if they accused you of doing something against God instead of praying for you. Your agony in the situation would be multiplied.
Job was facing just that. As he cried out to God, his friends mocked him and chastised him. In Job 19:13-19 he shares his struggle. He said, ““My relatives stay far away, and my friends have turned against me. My family is gone, and my close friends have forgotten me. My servants and maids consider me a stranger. I am like a foreigner to them. When I call my servant, he doesn’t come; I have to plead with him! My breath is repulsive to my wife. I am rejected by my own family. Even young children despise me. When I stand to speak, they turn their backs on me. My close friends detest me. Those I loved have turned against me” (NLT).
I can’t imagine having to go through my most difficult times without the support of friends and family. What happened to Job still happens to people today. They are left to go through struggles on their own. Their friends turn their backs in them when life gets tough. Their hope and strength fade away without support. As believers, we must support people who are struggling. We must offer them the hope that is within us. We must hold them up in prayer when they don’t have the strength or will to pray for themselves.
Each of us know that the Golden Rule is to do unto others as we would have others do unto us. We need to treat people the way we want to be treated. We need to visit the sick in the hospital, comfort those who are broken, defend the defenseless, guard the unguarded, offer water to the thirsty, and food to the hungry. In Matthew 25:40, Jesus said when we do these things for the least of these we are doing it for Him.
As Christians, we can’t be like Job’s friends who were self-righteous and pointed out the faults in other people. We need to be like the ones Jesus talked about in Mathew 25. We are to be the ones who offer help to those in need. We are to pick up those who’ve been knocked down. We are to give another chance to those who have used up all their chances. We are to offer grace to those who least deserve it because that what Jesus did. Look around you today. Who is hurting? Who is broken? Who is down an out? Go to them and be what they need. You are doing it for the Lord as much as you’re doing it for them.
A friend showed me a video this week of two teams of guys doing a drill of passing basketballs. The video asked how many times a certain group passed the ball. I watched intently and counted in my head as they passed the ball. At the end of the video it asked, “How many did you count?” My answer was right. I took a deep breath, held my chin up a little bit and bowed out my chest as if I was something. Then the video asked, “Did you see the moonwalking bear?”
What bear? There were two teams of guys passing balls. There was no bear. Then the video rewinds and highlights a guy in a bear costume start from the right side of the screen and moon-walked through the players to the left side of the screen. The guys pad to move to pass around him, but I never saw him when I initially watched it. I also replayed the video from the beginning just to make sure they didn’t try to pull a fast one on me. He was there the whole time.
I was reading John chapter one this morning and came across verse 10. Speaking about Jesus, it says, “He came into the world He created, but the world didn’t recognize Him.” You’re thinking, “I recognize Him”, but really we have the advantage of the tape rewind like I did later in that video. Would we have recognized Him in that time when He came in the flesh? Would we have readily received Him? Or would we have been so busy counting the laws we were supposed to be obeying that we missed Jesus moonwalking through our world.
What about today’s world? Do you see Jesus in your world today? He’s there all around us. He’s the homeless person on the corner who’s hungry. He’s the single mother who doesn’t have enough money to pay the bills. He’s the person who has been beat down by this world and doesn’t think they can go on another day. He’s the child who has been orphaned and is in need of love. He’s in the cubicle next to you. In the house next door. Standing in front of you in line. He’s moonwalking through our lives and we don’t see Him most if the time because we aren’t really looking for Him.
Jesus said in Matthew 25:40, “Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me.” How many times have I overlooked someone or ignored them? It wasn’t intentional. I was just busy going about my day doing what I do. I wasn’t looking for those opportunities. According to verse 45, that won’t be an acceptable excuse. Jesus said, “Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me – you failed to do it to me.”
I don’t want to miss Jesus moonwalking through my life today. I pray that God opens my eyes so I can see Him where I didn’t expect Him. I pray that God gives me the courage to help the people that are overlooked and ignored when I see them. I’m hoping today that you’ll make that your prayer too. Jesus is all around us everyday, but we don’t see Him because we aren’t looking for Him that way. Yet, He told us in His Word that’s what He’d look like in our world. Keep your eyes open today and let me know where you see Him moonwalking.