Prodigal Us

Prodigal Us

Luke 15:17-20

“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

                For a while this has been my favorite parable in the Bible. I think that I like it so much because there is so much action and it seems to cover a large amount of time, and most of all we can easily find ourselves in this parable in some way or fashion. If you have never read this parable I would highly suggest that you read the entire 15 chapter of Luke to get the full effect of what Jesus is trying to get across in this parable.

Let me give you a little background one the passages above and then that will make it easier for us to talk about what is going on here. The parable actually starts back in verse 11 where we see that there are two sons, and their father. The younger of the two wants his inheritance that he would get when the father died. So, the father divides things us and gives to BOTH sons what they would get when he died. The younger son sales everything he has just gotten and goes off to a faraway place and waste his money on “foolish living”.  After he is out of money, a famine hits the faraway land and he has to go to work for one of the citizens of that land, but finds himself quickly in a place where he has no money, no food, he is feeding pigs as a job, and is still going hungry.

That is where we pick things up with the verse above. The boy comes to his sense and returns to his father to repent of what he has done and go to work for him as a slave. This is where things begin to get very interesting. You will notice that when the younger brother returns the farther doesn’t wait for him to reach the house and then say “I told you so”, no this father does the unthinkable, he runs out to meet his son and kisses him. If you read on you find that the father literally says in verse 24 that he is going to celebrate because “this son of mine was dead and is alive again;”. And celebrate is exactly what they do. They throw the biggest party that the people have ever seen for this son who pretty much told his father that he wished he would just go ahead and die so he could have his money, got his money, went off and spent it on women and other foolish things, and came dragging back into town with nothing.

This doesn’t make the older brother happy that they are throwing this big party for the “wild child” of the family just because he has come back home. And actually the older brother gets jealous and complains to the father. The older brother didn’t care if the younger brother came back or not, all he cared about was himself, even though he did stay home with his father and work and on the outside looked like a good son. But what do we see the father do here with the older son? We see that he shows compassion to him also, and reassures the older son that everything that the father owns is just as much the older sons.

I stated earlier that I believe that I favored this parable so much because it is easy to find ourselves in this story. We can obviously see that the gracious father that welcomes and loves both of his sons unconditionally is God Himself, who loved us in our rebellious times and celebrated when we repented and came back to him. He loves us when we get prideful and jealous of how He has treated other people, just like the older brother got jealous of the younger brother.

The real question to ask at the end of this parable is, are you a younger brother who is living in a manner that is rebellious to God and you want nothing to do with Him? Or are you an older brother who claims to be faithful to God the father, but often times finds yourself jealous of how God is gracious to all people? No matter where you find yourself in this story we see that God responds the same way to both the rebellious and the jealous, and that is with grace and love.