Issue 963 – Three Prodigals – January 23, 2023
I have been thinking of the well-known story that Jesus tells, the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-31.)
A man has two sons, the youngest of who demands his inheritance early, thus disgracing his father, his family and the entire community. He blows it all on wild and wanton living in a foreign land. This young man is the one we call the prodigal son.
And he [that is, Jesus] said, “There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything. “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”‘ Luke 15:11-19
The most common meaning of prodigal is to be rashly or wastefully extravagant. The youngest son certainly fits that description.
The eldest son remains at home and works hard. More about him later.
The third character is the father. He brokenheartedly gives the younger son what He asks for but never gives up on him. When the youngest finally bottoms out and comes to his senses …
And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate. Luke 15:20-24
The father is prodigal in another sense. He gives lavishly, in abundance, to his son. The son deserves nothing, but the father loves and lavishes on his boy.
Against all cultural rules of decorum, he runs and kisses the son who shamed him.
How does the eldest son react to all this?
“Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. Luke 15:25-31
His true heart shows. He is self-centred, angry and jealous. In his hardness, he ignored the love of the father and forfeited the grace that could be his. He, too, was prodigal.
Who was more prodigal, the younger son who wasted the fortune but returned in repentance or the elder son who stayed on and seemed dutiful but rejected the father’s gifts?
Whichever one you choose, know that the father was the most prodigal of all. He lavished love on both sons. He offered grace and forgiveness.
So it is with our heavenly Father. Some will accept His gift of love and forgiveness; others will toil for it but never accept it.
He loves us abundantly, lavishly and without reservation. That is marvellous beyond imagination. Praise Him for His extravagant love.
Hallelu Yah / Praise God
Gleanings From The Word
Experience an extraordinary God in ordinary life.
Soli Deo Gloria (For the glory of God alone)
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