Above all men, it can be said of Christ: “You are the most excellent of men and your lips have been anointed with grace, since God has blessed you forever” (Psalm 45:2). When we read the parable of the prodigal son, we are reading the words spoken by the perfect Son. His lips were “anointed with grace.” In this parable, He points us to the heavenly welcome which is ours through returning to the Father. With the perfect Son of God, we will share the blessing: “God has blessed you for ever.” Blessed by Him, we are to fight for Him without fear and with the assurance of His victorious presence (Deuteronomy 20:1).
Holiness and honesty are two qualities which are to characterize the life of the Christian. The ‘laws’ in Deuteronomy stress the importance of holiness. Jesus, in His parable of the shrewd manager, emphasizes the importance of honesty – “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much” (Luke 16:10). We are not to put on a facade of holiness. We are to be honest in our seeking holiness. If we despise the way of honesty and holiness, we will go the way of folly against which we are warned in Proverbs 9:13-18.
Scripture speaks of both salvation and judgment. The Israelites were given “the land … as an inheritance.” The Amalekites were to be “blotted out” (Deuteronomy 25:19). Lazarus received salvation – “carried … to Abraham’s side.” The rich man received judgment “in hell” (Luke 16:22-23). We must seek to honour Jesus Christ our Lord (Psalm 45:11). This is salvation – confessing Christ as Lord with the mouth and trusting Him with the heart (Romans 10:9).
The Lord blesses an obedient people (Deuteronomy 28:2). Our obedience to God arises from our thankfulness to Him (Luke 17:16). With grateful hearts, we make confession of our faith: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). To His people, God says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations” (Psalm 46:10). God is exalted among the nations when His people are obedient people (Deuteronomy 28:9-10).
Sadly, it is possible to be living in the promised land yet living in disobedience and thus losing out on the promised blessing. The Pharisee, in Jesus’ parable, lived and worshipped within the tradition which remembered God’s mighty act of redemption. Nevertheless, his heart was far from God. He considered himself superior, He was not justified, and he would not be exalted (glorified). Those who are justified, who will be glorified, rejoice in the Lord with much gladness: “Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises” (Psalm 47:6).
The Lord is looking for His people to stand up and be counted as His faithful servants. There is a commitment to be made, a commitment to be maintained. It is not only beginning with Christ. It is going on with Him. This is illustrated in the story of Zacchaeus. We are to walk securely as men of integrity (Proverbs 10:9).
A comparison may be made between Israel’s entry into the promised land and Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. Ahead of both, there lay conflict, but beyond the conflict, there was triumph. Their triumph is the triumph of God – “As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the Lord Almighty, in the city of our God: God makes her secure for ever” (Psalm 48:8).
Moses was God’s servant. Joshua was God’s servant. The prophets were God’s servants. Jesus is God’s Son. He is the Cornerstone of our salvation. Without Him, there is no salvation. With Him, there is full salvation. Concerning Him, the Word of God says, “This God is our God for ever and ever” (Psalm 48:14). He loves us with an “unfailing love” and His “praise reaches to the ends of the earth” (Psalm 48:9-10).
The contrast between Moses and Jesus continues. Moses died. Jesus is the Lord: “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet” (Luke 20:42-43). In Him, we have the promise of eternal life: “God will redeem my life from the grave; He will surely take me to Himself” (Psalm 49:15).