Commenting on the Parable of
the Prodigal Son T he Lost Son The Lost Sons The Prodigal God, Miroslav Volf has this earth-shattering thing to say:
...the relationship did not depend on moral performance and therefore could not be destroyed by immoral acts.
The son remained this father's son. The father remained this son's father. At least in the father's eyes. The relationship could never be earned; it was created by the grace of nature to begin with, and sustained by the nature of grace in the end.
We want moral order, we want just deserts, we want lex talionis, we want the world of the older brother. What's more, we want a cross that bends to the will of this moral order, and a Jesus whose relationship to his father did depend on moral performance. We want the revelation of a righteousness that is not only witnessed to by the law, but is achieved by doing the deeds of the law. We cannot understand "apart from the law". We do not want a world whose nature is grace, whose law is the lawlessness of unconditional love.
But the father wants to throw a party that celebrates not moral performance but the return to his gracious home made possible by his act of embrace that redefines our moral universe.