And Fall Short of the Father’s Castle.
We can get so wrapped up in our personal opinions and vices, that we neglect to recognize them as sin.
My Senior Pastor and I have worked through a narrative written by Max Lucado. In this story, there are five brothers living in their father’s kingdom; but only the eldest followed the father’s wishes.
Through disobedience and the unfortunate consequences of that disobedience, the youngest four brothers are pulled into a rushing river and swept away; leaving the father with only his eldest son. When the four brothers finally come to rest down-river, they find themselves in a foreign land, far away from their home and their father. 
So far, we have discussed three of the four brothers.
The first brother rejected an opportunity to return to the Father because he had decided to make a home out of sticks and mud, and live in the foreign land. The second brother rejected an opportunity to return to the Father because he was too focused on judging the brother in the mud hut.
The third brother rejected an opportunity to return to the Father because he wanted to make his own way back to the Father using an impossible pathway of stones in the river.
Metaphorically, this story has covered three different types of people found within Romans 1 and 2. As we arrive at Romans three, we also arrive at the fourth brother. You see, after the eldest brother concludes his conversation with the stone-stacking brother, he walks back onto the beach to meet the last and youngest of these four.
As the eldest brother walks up the beach toward him, the youngest feels a mix of emotions. He thinks back in shame, to his disobedience that had got them all into this mess to begin with. As the eldest brother reaches him, the youngest hangs his head; not able to look into his brother’s eyes.
‘I’m here to bring you back to the Father‘ says the eldest brother.
The youngest responds, ‘where are the others?‘
‘Well‘, says the eldest, ‘one has chosen to remain in this foreign land, one has chosen to watch and judge that brother and the last has chosen to work his own way back to the Father.‘
To this, the younger brother replies, ‘So they will remain in this foreign land?‘ ‘For now‘ says the eldest. ‘But I will return, should they ever decide to accept my rescue; which the Father has provided.‘
After a few moments of silence, the youngest brother asks, ‘will the Father forgive me?‘ The eldest brother embraces the younger and replies, ‘Would He have sent me if he was not willing to forgive you?‘
The youngest, filled with joy; accepts the eldest brother’s rescue and returns to the Father.
We have a somewhat happy ending.
Now let’s turn to Romans chapter 3 in order to capture the Biblical principle. (Read Romans 3:1-26)
First, I’d like to look at verse 9; “What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that…” we “…are all under sin.”
After this statement, Paul validates his claim by quoting Old Testament Scripture.
“There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”
Let’s pause there.
If we look back to our narrative, we kind of see the youngest son as the ‘good’ son. We think, “of course the youngest should be rescued! He deserves it! The other three brothers rejected the opportunity to return to the Father; so they deserve to live in the foreign land!”
Unfortunately, this is where we’re wrong.
All four brothers disobeyed and were lost in a foreign land! Out of the hurt and pride that followed their disobedience, three of them chose more destructive path; but it doesn’t let the youngest off the hook. Just like Paul and the Old Testament prophets stated, “There is no one righteous”!
All four brothers fell into sin and deserved the foreign land!
Let’s skip down to verse 21:
“But now a righteousness from God…has been made known…” Verse 22: “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood.”
Please understand that God’s original plan is for us to live with Him in the beautiful kingdom. But because of our disobedience, pride, selfishness; our sin, we all have been carried away along this rushing river, and rightfully live in and deserve this foreign land.
Maybe you’re sitting, reading this and saying, “I’m a good person! I’ve only made a few mistakes!” That’s great, but the youngest brother only made one mistake and he still ended up just as lost as his brothers.
Paul’s message to the Roman church and us is clear:
“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.
Don’t be mistaken in thinking that there won’t be a lot of really good people in the foreign land! On the inside of each and every one of us, when it comes down to it, we’re looking out for number one; and that will not get us back to the Father’s kingdom.
In order to give us eternal life with the Father; Jesus Christ (God’s son) came as a man and took every bit of that disobedience, pride, selfishness: sin. He took it all, he died with it and on the third day he rose again.
He did this so that he could walk through the foreign land, pick us up and carry all those who accept the opportunity, back to the Father.
Before I close, I have a caveat:
I want to be clear on the last note of our narrative and a key concept from Romans 3. Because Christ died for all people in all of time, he can return to this foreign land as many times as necessary.
Just because the three brothers rejected his offer then, it does not mean that he will not return.
Now, I’m going to ask you to make a decision.
- It doesn’t matter whether you’re building huts of selfish and immoral living.
- It doesn’t matter whether you’re sitting on a hill and judging the actions of others.
- It doesn’t matter whether you’re doing all sorts of good works and trying to earn your way to the Father.
- It doesn’t matter whether you’re just sitting and waiting to be rescued.
The Scripture says that we are all in sin and all fall short!
It’s time to leave this foreign land.
Our Eldest Brother, the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ; is waiting to carry you back to the Father. In John 14, Jesus said “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
If you take this step of faith and choose righteousness over selfishness, you will be rescued! You will be saved.
If this is what you desire, then tell Him. Ask Him to rescue you. Tell Him that you believe that He is the Son of God and the only One who can bring you back to the Father. If you would like to be rescued and carried to the Father today, please tell him today. By doing this, you are embracing the opportunity to live in the Father’s kingdom after your time in this foreign land is over.
May God bless you richly for the decision you have made today.
 Lucado, M. (1996) In the Grip of Grace: You Can’t Fall Beyond His Love. Word Publishing.