This past week we wrapped up the “For You” series, and I’m sure you’ll agree, God has a great deal for us. We’ve learned over the past few weeks that God wants our hearts, our trust, our happiness, and ultimately, for us to be saved. This week we're going to take A Deeper Dive into this last idea.
One of the most well known parables or stories of Jesus is the one about the prodigal son. Many sermons and books have been written on it, and famous paintings have been made depicting the son's return. But what if we’ve missed the point of the whole story? Too often, as we read the story, we recount the returning of the son. And while this is part of the story, even part of our own story, we may have missed the big picture. But before we go on, first check out Luke 15:1-31.
Now when you first began reading you may have have wondered why we didn’t begin with verse 11, but one of the most important verses that Luke records in this story is in verse 1. We’re told whom Jesus was talking to, namely, tax collectors and sinners. We also discover that there are a group of Pharisees and scribes/teachers of the law (the people who should have it together) who begin to mutter about them. It’s in this context that Jesus begins to share God’s perspective.
He tells a story about a shepherd who left ninety-nine sheep to pursue one lost sheep and follows it up with another story about a woman who had ten coins and cleaned her house finding the one that was lost. In each instance, when what is lost is found, there is a call for celebration, and Jesus says that when lost people are found there is rejoicing in Heaven!
Then he moves on from one hundred to ten and finally ends with the story of the prodigal son with its three main characters: the father, the older son, and the younger son. The younger son asks for his inheritance, in effect saying, “Dad, I wish you were dead.” And later, when the son returns after spending everything on wild living and finds himself in the midst of a famine, he returns home to a dad who rejoices that what was lost has been found (like the other two stories)! But remember, there was an older son, one who sought to do right, a goody-two-shoes of a sorts who feels like he’s too good to join in the celebration. He feels like the younger son doesn’t deserve it, maybe even feels like he is going to defend his dad’s honor even if his dad isn’t willing to do so.
The younger son represents Jesus’ first audience, the sinners and tax-collectors, while the older son represents the people who should be rejoicing but feel like Jesus shouldn’t even be talking to the first group. You see, both sons (groups) have their vices, hurts, habits, and hang-ups. Both groups need grace, both groups need the Father, and that’s where we misunderstand the story. It isn’t about a prodigal son or his brother, it’s about a prodigal father.
A prodigal is, in essence, one who spends resources freely and even recklessly. The prodigal father is reckless with his grace, mercy, and forgiveness while any other father in that culture would have considered his son dead to himself. But his daddy gives everything, holds nothing back, and even throws a feast! This daddy is our Abba, our Heavenly Father, and he loves us more than we can imagine.
This week, hear your Heavenly Father’s voice clearly saying, “I love you, I love you, I love you!” He is seeking to find what is lost and restore it. Jesus didn’t come to save the people who have it all together; he came to die for and save the broken and that’s all of us.
This week I encourage you to listen to the song “Reckless” by Cory Asbury, and take a moment to read the lyrics out loud. Let the Father’s love wash over you, and hear this clearly...God is for you! Finally, pray these lyrics back to God, and then listen for a few minutes, and hear what the Father has to say to you.