THE PRODIGAL GOD
Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you…” (Luke 15:21). Cleanse me anew, I pray.
Read Luke 15:11–32
The Parable of the Lost Son
11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
17 “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! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 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.
21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’
28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectHave you ever been considered extravagant? Was it for a good cause?
“Prodigal” can mean recklessly throwing everything away, or being recklessly extravagant. Here the son wishes his father dead so that he can get his inheritance – then wastes it all; and here is the father who lavishes so much on his returning child. How would you describe the father (12b, 20, 22-24)? To run was undignified (20); to give away his own robe (22) and his prize possession (23) was truly prodigal: extravagant love. The boy only has to admit humbly that he is alienated and needs to come home. Then he discovers that his father is, after all, looking for him. What does it take to know this grace? Simply, to admit that we need it more than anything else in the world (17–19).
In many ways the older brother was more lost, though staying at home. Look at his attitude (28–30), trying to earn the love and the wealth of his father. He is intolerant and full of a sense of entitlement. Like the listeners of verse 2 – he is judgmental and self-justifying, under law not grace, lacking the humble admission of the younger brother (17–19). What is the father’s response (31)? Tender grace. How will the older brother respond?
“I am the prodigal son every time I search for unconditional love where it cannot be found” (Henri J.M. Nouwen). What things or people are you expecting to fulfill or satisfy you?
Father, God, I often run away when I should run toward You. Teach me to come to You. Thank You for Your lavish love toward me.