Thy will be done…
(Understanding God’s Will)
In the Book of Luke, there is a curious statement about God. Luke quotes the prophet Isaiah as saying that through Christ (the Lord) all mankind shall see the “salvation of God”.1 Considering the ham–fisted way that Jesus’s twelve apostles (not to mention the Pharisees and Sadducees) often handled Old Testament scripture, we might be tempted just to pass over this comment from Isaiah. But that would be a mistake.
Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit, has been inspiring prophets since the beginning of the world. 2 Jewish scripture, like all holy scripture, is capable of profound revelation, and this quote by Isaiah is a jewel of an example—albeit one that is rarely talked about. Our silence surrounds the disturbing question: From what exactly does an all powerful God need to be saved? For mankind, “salvation” means being rescued from the wages of sin, but is God a sinner too?
Some would argue that Jehovah certainly is no saint, considering the peevish, jealous, and wrathful behavior he exhibits in the Old Testament. But when Isaiah refers to God’s salvation, he isn’t talking about liberating Jehovah from his penchant for tormenting servants like Job just to win bets with Satan. He is talking about the justification of God’s will, and the choices he’s made. To illustrate God’s situation, Jesus tells the story of the prodigal son. 3
In this parable, a father has two sons. The youngest, anxious to experience the world, asks for his inheritance right away. The father abides by this request and grants him his share, which the boy then dutifully squanders on wine, women, and song in a far off land. The young man eventually crawls back home utterly destitute. Rather than chastise his fallen boy, the father welcomes him back with open arms, kills the fatted calf, and throws a big party.
All the merry–making upsets the older son, who stews over the fact that his father never gave him even a young foal to butcher and barbecue for his friends. The father gently rebukes his eldest, stating that everything he owns has always been available to him.
When this parable is taught today, the emphasis is usually on the prodigal son’s welcome home party. The celebration is used to demonstrate that we shouldn’t be afraid of God’s punishment, if we want to return to his fold after years of dissolute living. The beginning of the parable though is just as important, for it reveals the position in which God has placed himself.
The father in Jesus’s story did not have to advance his son his inheritance. He could have just as easily said: “No way, get out there and work the fields with your brother.” He chose to give the money to his son. And we expect he handed it over knowing full well that his boy wasn’t going to invest it in sheep futures.
Not many fathers today would let their child blow such a fortune. Why does this one? Because this father’s ultimate concern is not for his estate but for respecting his son’s independence. By granting his son the means to live on his own, the father hopes he will make the mistakes he needs to make; learn the lessons he needs to learn; and, when all is said and done, return home realizing that a boundless treasure lay within the bosom of family.
God, in granting us free will, also has given us our…
The Lord’s Prayer. To continue reading, click on page 2 at the bottom.
- Every chasm shall be filled, every mountain and hill shall be leveled; the winding ways shall be straightened; the rough roads made smooth, 6 And all mankind shall see the salvation of God. – Luke 3:5-6 [↩]
- “You are not fifty years old yet,” the Jews exclaimed, “and have you seen Abraham?” 58 “In truth I tell you,” replied Jesus, “before Abraham was, I am.” – John 8:57-58 [↩]
- A man had two sons; 12 And the younger of them said to his father: ‘Father, give me my share of the inheritance.’ So the father divided the property between them. 13 A few days later the younger son got together all that he had, and went away into a distant land; and there he squandered his inheritance by leading a dissolute life. 14 After he has spent all that he had, there was a severe famine through all that country, and he began to be in actual want.” 15 “So he went and hired himself out to one of the people of that country, who sent him into his fields to tend pigs. 16 He longed to satisfy his hunger with even the bean-pods on which the pigs were feeding; and no one gave him anything.” 17 “But, when he came to himself, he said: ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more bread than they can eat, while here am I starving to death! 18 I will get up and go to my father, and say to him: ‘Father, I sinned against heaven and against you; 19 I am no longer fit to be called your son; make me one of your hired servants.’” 20 “And he got up and went to his father. But, while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was deeply moved; he ran and threw his arms round his neck and kissed him. 21 ‘Father,’ the son said, ‘I sinned against heaven and against you; I am no longer fit to be called your son; make me one of your hired servants.’” 22 “But the father turned to his servants and said: ‘Be quick and fetch a robe—the very best—and put it on him; give him a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet; 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and make merry; 24 For here is my son who was dead, and is alive again, was lost, and is found.’ So they began making merry.” 25 “Meanwhile the elder son was out in the fields; but, on coming home, when he got near the house, he heard music and dancing, 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what it all meant. 27 ‘Your brother has come back,’ the servant told him, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has him back safe and sound.’ 28 This made him angry, and he would not go in. But his father came out and begged him to do so.” 29 “‘No,’ he said to his father, ‘look at all the years I have been serving you, without ever once disobeying you, and yet you have never given me even a kid, so that I might have a party with my friends. 30 But, no sooner has this son of yours come, who has eaten up your property in the company of prostitutes, than you have killed the fattened calf for him.’” 31 “‘Child,’ the father answered, ‘you are always with me, and everything that I have is yours. 32 How could we do anything else but make merry and rejoice, for here is your brother who was dead, and is alive; who was lost, and is found.” – Luke 15:11–32 [↩]
Jesus entered Jericho and made his way through the town. 2 There was a man there, known by the name of Zacchaeus, who was a commissioner of taxes and a rich man. 3 He tried to see what Jesus was like; but, being short, he was unable to do so because of the crowd. 4 So he ran on ahead and climbed into a mulberry tree, to see Jesus, for he knew that he must pass that way.
5 When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him: “Zacchaeus, be quick and come down, for I must stop at your house today.” 6 So Zacchaeus got down quickly, and joyfully welcomed him.
7 On seeing this, everyone began to complain: “He has gone to stay with a man who is a sinner.” 8 But Zacchaeus stood forward and said to the Master: “Listen, Master! I will give half my property to the poor, and, if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give him back four times as much.” 9 “Salvation has come to this house today,” answered Jesus, “for even this man is a son of Abraham. 10 The Son of Man has come to ‘search for those who are lost’ and to save them.”
As the people were listening to this, Jesus went on to tell them a parable. He did so because he was near Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God was going to be proclaimed at once. 12 He said: “A nobleman once went to a distant country to receive an appointment to become king and then to return. 13 He called ten of his servants and gave them ten pounds each, and told them to trade with it until his return. 14 But his subjects hated him and sent envoys after him to say, ‘We will not have this man be our king.’ 15 On his return, after having been crowned king, he directed that the servants to whom he had given his money be summoned, so that he might learn what amount of trade they had done.”
16 “The first came up, and said: ‘Sir, your ten pounds have made a hundred.’ 17 ‘Well done, good servant!’ exclaimed the master. ‘As you have proved trustworthy in a very small matter, I appoint you governor over ten towns.’ 18 When the second came, he said: ‘Your ten pounds, sir, have produced fifty.’ 19 So the master said to him: ‘And you I appoint over five towns.’ 20 Another servant also came and said: ‘Sir, here are your ten pounds; I have kept them put away in a handkerchief. 21 For I was afraid of you, because you are a stern man. You take what you have not planted, and reap what you have not sown.’ ”
22 “The master answered, ‘Out of your own mouth I judge you, you worthless servant. You knew that I am a stern man, that I take what I have not planted, and reap what I have not sown? 23 Then why did not you put my money into a bank? And I, on my return, could have claimed it with interest. 24 Take away from him the ten pounds,’ he said to those standing by, ‘and give them to the one who has the hundred.’” 25 ‘But, Sir,’ they interposed, ‘he has a hundred pounds already!’
26 ‘I tell you,’ he answered, ‘that, to him who has, more will be given, but, from him who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away. 27 But as for my enemies, these men who would not have me as their king, bring them here and put them to death in my presence.’” 28 After saying this, Jesus went on in front, going up to Jerusalem.
29 It was when Jesus had almost reached Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, that he sent on two of the disciples. 30 “Go to the village facing us,” he said, “and, when you get there, you will find a colt tied, which no one has yet ridden; untie it and lead it here. 31 And, if anybody asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you are to say this: ‘The Master wants it.’”
32 So the two who were sent went and found it as Jesus had told them. 33 While they were untying the foal, the owners asked them: “Why are you untying the colt?” 34 And the two disciples answered: “The Master wants it.” 35 Then they led it back to Jesus, and threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus upon it. 36 As he went along, the people kept spreading their cloaks in the road.
37 When he had almost reached the place where the road led down the Mount of Olives, every one of the many disciples began in their joy to praise God loudly for all the miracles that they had seen: 38 “Blessed is He who comes—Our King—in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.”
39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him: “Teacher, reprove your disciples.” 40 But Jesus answered: “I tell you that if these men are silent, the very stones will call out.”
41 When he drew near, on seeing the city, he wept over it, and said: 42 “Would that you had known, while yet there was time—even you—the things that make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your sight. 43 For a time is coming upon you when your enemies will surround you with earthworks, and encircle you, and hem you in on all sides; 44 They will trample you down and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know ‘the time of your visitation.’”
45 Jesus went into the temple courts and began to drive out those who were selling, 46 Saying as he did so: “Scripture says, ‘My House shall be a House of Prayer’; but you have made it ‘a den of thieves.’”
47 Jesus continued to teach each day in the temple courts; but the chief priests and teachers of the law were eager to take his life, and so also were the leading men. 48 Yet they could not see what to do, for the people all hung upon his words.
To read the next chapter of the Book of Luke, please go to The Gospel of Luke – 20.
This Online New Testament Gospel of Luke is excerpted from the book The Living Hour: The Lord’s Prayer for Daily Life (with New Century Gospels). Including over 200 bookmarked citations from the canonical Gospels, this Progressive Christian book appeals to the Unitarian spirit at the heart of all faiths.
Challenge your perceptions on the Gospel of Christ, Jesus’s parables, and the Kingdom of God by purchasing The Lord’s Prayer book today. Produced by LivingHour.org, a Thailand-based small press dedicated to publishing unique Learning Easy Thai Language Books, as well as works on progressive spirituality.