We Had to Celebrate – Gospel in Life

We Had to Celebrate

Tim Keller |  November 2, 2008

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  • Communion and Baptism
  • Redemption
  • Salvation
Luke 15:17-32
RS 205-6


The twentieth century philosopher Martin Heidegger believed all human beings were characterized by unheimlichkeit, which means homesickness. It means to be alienated, to feel that we’re not really home in this world, to feel that we are in exile, that we’re in a world that’s profoundly at variance with our deepest desires. Why would that be? What are we going to do about that? Those profound questions are all addressed and actually answered by this wonderful parable in Luke 15.

We’re going to see how Jesus so brilliantly ties this story in with one of the main themes of the entire Bible, which is exile and homecoming. Let’s take a look at how it does that under three headings: the human condition, the divine solution for it, and the new Communion that is the result.

Luke 15:17–32

The story of the prodigal son shows us how God’s love can change people and their relationships. It talks about how we often feel like we’re missing something in life, like we’re looking for a real place to belong. This connects with the Bible’s big idea of being lost and then finding our way home. The story gives us a deep understanding of our human struggles, God’s answer to these struggles, and the birth of a new community.

1. Our human struggles

The main story of the Bible is about going from being lost to finding our way home. It starts with us living in a beautiful garden God made just for us. This garden was everything we could ever want or need. But when we decided not to listen to God, we lost this beautiful place and ended up in a world that doesn’t fully satisfy us. We all feel this sense of being lost in different ways. We’re all looking for the beauty, love, creativity, and freedom from pain and death that the original garden had. We all want to find our way back home.

2. God’s answer

The story of the prodigal son makes us think about how God saves us. Some people think the father forgiving his son shows us how God loves us without needing anything in return. The older brother’s part in bringing his lost brother back home highlights the importance of Jesus Christ in bringing us back to God. God’s love, what Jesus’ death means, and the hope of a future celebration with God all give Christians a sense of peace and strength. The Lord’s Supper is a way for us to feel connected to God’s love and the Christian community.

3. The new community

Jesus Christ shows us the way to salvation through actively being part of a Christian community, not just having emotional experiences. The Lord’s Supper is a reminder of this commitment. It tells us that only God can give us true meaning and security in life, not the things of this world. By praying for acceptance and change through Jesus, and being a part of the church, we can experience the powerful change of God’s love and salvation.



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