What do you get the man who has everything? That’s a particularly vexing question on Father’s Day if you’re a child . . . and your father is God. Perhaps this Father’s Day we should ask Jesus “The Only Begotten Son of God.”

In Luke 14:26-27 Jesus says: “If anyone comes after me and does not hate his own [heautou] father… he cannot be my disciple.”

Jesus says the darndest things! Did Jesus hate his “own father?” “Honor your Father and Mother” is the law that Jesus came to fulfill, of which not an iota would pass away until all is accomplished. But, strangest of all, this verse is followed by our Lord’s most famous of all “Love Your Father” stories—the Story of the Prodigal Son, which should be called the Story of the Prodigal Father who wouldn’t stop loving his two prodigal sons.

In Luke 15, Jesus addresses the Pharisees who grumbled over the fact that he partied with “tax collectors and sinners.” He tells a story of a lost sheep that’s found and how everyone rejoices, a lost coin that’s found and how everyone rejoices, and a lost boy that’s found and not everyone (in particular, an older brother) rejoices.

In Luke 15:12, the younger of two sons demands “his share” of the inheritance, “the property (ousia: substance), that was coming to him.” And the father “divides his property (bios: life) between them (both of them).” This son is saying, “I wish you were dead and I want your stuff,” or worse, “I want you as my stuff, my own stuff.” It’s what we were all saying when we took the life of Christ on the Tree on Calvary and when we took the Fruit from the Tree in the Garden of Eden.

After this boy squanders his “property (substance)” in reckless living, he comes to “his own (heautou) self,” devises a plan, and rehearses a speech in order to convince his father to hire him as an employee—not a son who inherits all things but an employee who earns all things. The “self” that he “came to” was still “lost.”

But the Father runs to him on the road and, before this boy can speak a word, this father covers him with kisses. And then, when he does deliver his prearranged speech, he leaves out the request to be an employee; he wants to be a son. The Father gives him a robe, a ring, and shoes; that’s righteousness, identity, and freedom. And then the father says, “It’s time to party for this my son… was lost and is found. And they began to party.”

In each story (about the sheep, the coin, and the boy) Jesus equates “repentance” with being found—not finding but being found. So, repentance is not a thing we do in order to get found; but getting found is the thing done to us that is called repentance and looks like a party.

The older brother resents the party. He hears music and dancing, and so refuses to enter the father’s house, choosing instead the outer darkness. The father goes out, finds him, and entreats him to come in, but the boy says, “I never disobeyed your command, and yet you never gave me one goat.” The father responds, “You are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was necessary to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead and is alive; he was lost and is found.” And this is where Jesus ends his story—where most of us are, right now.

#1 Where’s Heaven in this story? Well, Heaven is the party, a sacrificial communion of life wherein all have lost their own life and then found their life in one dancing body filled with joy. Heaven is the party in the Father’s House. And the inside of that House is bigger than all of space and time.

#2 Where is Hell? If by “Hell,” we mean Hades/Sheol, then “Hell” is where the older brother is weeping and gnashing his teeth in outer darkness. If by “Hell,” we mean the Consuming Fire, then Hell #2 has just descended into Hell#1, for our Father in Heaven is the Eternal Consuming Fire. If by “Hell” we mean “Gehenna,” then this is what the Father is giving and the boy is receiving: Eternal Judgment, Hell #2 confronting Hell #1, which is Hell #3, the boundary between this age and eternity.

#3 Who is forgiven? The younger brother is forgiven; he doesn’t have to pay back the inheritance. The older brother is also forgiven—forgiven the inheritance. And yet there is something else for which he will never be forgiven; in other words, he will have to give this back. We could call it judgment. And surrendering judgment is called forgiveness. The party is constant forgiveness (aphiemi: to “let,”). The older brother is committing the unforgivable sin, which is blasphemy of the Spirit. To be a “party pooper” is to blaspheme the Spirit, the Life of the party. It is to hang on to the Spirit (the Breath, the Life that’s in the blood) as if it were your own. Luke 14, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father… and even his own [heautou] life, he cannot be my disciple.” It’s never too late to forgive, and eternity is constant forgiveness.

#4 Who is committing the unforgivable sin? The older brother—the older brother, who thought he never disobeyed his father’s command.

#5 Who is in Hell? The older brother . . . and God—God, who will not leave or forsake his boy. The Man who has everything has given up everything, in order to stand next to his son in outer darkness as he weeps and gnashes his teeth. And so, it is somehow within the son’s power to literally give the man who has everything, everything.

#6 Why is God in Hell? The Older Brother refuses to forgive. As long as we refuse to forgive, we trap ourselves in outer darkness, and Jesus (the heart of the Father) is trapped in outer darkness with us. Origen, the greatest of the early church fathers, understood that the tree stands at the edge of eternity and time and taught that Christ remains on the cross as long as one sinner remains in hell.

And yet, it’s so hard to forgive. Forgive everyone and you can get yourself crucified. This boy needs to forgive his brother, himself, and even his father—not that the father did anything wrong, but that this boy needs to “let” his father be his father AND his brother’s father. It’s hard to share your father, your “own father.”

Perhaps (as in Matthew) Jesus just meant that we need to love him more than our earthly fathers, but I highly suspect that Luke (the only Gentile author in the New Testament) hears Jesus as saying that we need to hate our own (heautou) father, that is the “father” that we think we own, the father we think belongs to us and not to our brothers and sisters.”

The Pharisees thought God belonged to them and not tax collectors, sinners, and Gentiles, kind of like some Christians think God belongs to them and not Atheists, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Democrats, or Republicans.

#7 Why won’t the older brother forgive? He hasn’t heard the Father’s Word . . . yet. Have you? “You are with me always and all that is mine is yours.” How is that possible? Well, your Father in Heaven, can give all that he has, and is, to both you and all your brothers and sisters; for him, space and time are no obstacle. However, getting you to believe his Word . . . is.

And so, he took the bread and broke it saying, “This is my body (substance) given to you.” And he took the cup saying, “This is the covenant in my blood (the Life, the Spirit, is in the blood). Drink of it all of you.” He’s sharing his own father with you.

Now give the Man who has everything, everything: Forgive and both of you can join the Party.

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