I’ve just been thinking on this story of the prodigal son, meditating if you will. I looked at the end of the story most recently, and found what I believe to be the ultimate point of the parable. The point that the angry brother is so caught up in his own anger and unforgiveness that he’s going to miss the feast thrown for his brother, choosing instead his own pity party of jealousy and judgementalism.
I’ve been thinking about the father in this story. The father who did not try stand in the way of the decision his son was making. The father who did not try to manipulate his son by holding the inheritance he has coming. To us, this seems highly irregular for a living father to dole out the inheritance before he passes on, but we see an example of this with Abraham as well, who gave Isaac his inheritance before his own death.
And he 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. We see this father, in his love for his son, simply divide his estate and give him the 1/3 he has coming. It’s not unheard of, but it is not required. He chooses to give his son his inheritance early as a free gift.
We see the son, with all the world could want, wanting more. Just like Adam and Eve in the garden, who had it all EXCEPT that particular tree, wanted it all PLUS a little it more. He decided he didn’t want to be under his fathers protection anymore, he decided he knew better. He wanted to do it HIS way. He wanted his own will, not his fathers will for him.
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. His will, his way. How’d that work out for our prodigal?
But notice his father. Does he send out search parties? Is he standing right there to catch him when he falls?. No. He allows the consequences to play themselves out. Does that mean he doesn’t love his younger son? No, we clearly see later in the story the stunning, striking love he has for his son.
But it does mean he gave his son the choice. The choice to go his own way, do his own will. The fathers will would have been for the son to stay at home, be a part of the family business, stay under the protection only he could provide. But the son chose his own will rather than submit himself to the fathers authority. And yes, we know how this turns out. “”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!” Luke 15:17 ESV. He hits bottom! The only place for him to go is home – back to his father.
Most of the stories Jesus told show us how we SHOULD be. We should be the light of the world. We should take up our cross and follow Him. We should come to the banquet He has prepared for us.
The prodigal son is who we ARE. We want our inheritance, but we don’t want to wait for it. We want it now!! We spend all we have on worthless things. We pursue the lusts of our flesh. We do things our way, not His way.
This is why we always identify with this prodigal son. In all Christian history, no matter the time, no matter the place, we all recognize ourselves as the prodigal. We all long to be in our Fathers arms. But we choose our selfish pride over his all embracing love. We choose our own will over His will.
“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 ESV. Our Father is waiting. He’s watching, with anticipation. If we will just turn and begin to travel back to Him, He will run to embrace us. Bring us the best robe, kill the fattened calf.
This was always His will. We ate from the only tree in the garden we couldn’t have. We had it all, but it wasn’t enough. But we chose our own pride and arrogance rather than live under his protection. And we have lived with those consequences ever since.
But…He’s watching, waiting for us to come back to Him. We pray this all the time, it’s what Jesus taught us – “Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:9-10 ESV. His will for us is to come back to Him. His will would have been for us to never have left Him in the first place. He loves us so much, He even sent a search party. He sent His son to bring us back to Him. “”Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.”” John 14:1-4 ESV. He showed us the way – “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”” John 14:6-7 ESV. He took His throne on that cross. We can’t go back to the garden, it’s guarded to keep us from eating from the tree of life. But..Jesus died on the cross on Friday. He conquered death on Sunday. He’s been building His New Jerusalem ever since. We might not get to eat from the tree of life, but…“…if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” Romans 6:5 ESV
Our Fathers house has many rooms. Jesus is preparing a room just for each one of us. As each of us makes the choice to go back to the Father, we make certain decisions. We choose to get baptized in the water, symbolically dying with Him. We come out of the water to claim our resurrection. We lose our lives, die to ourselves, in order to live for Him. We die to ourselves, we live FOREVER with Him.
Some of us think we can figure out when the end times will come. We’ve thought this for about 1800 years now. We think we are smart, we’ll have it all figured out, we’ll accept that grace at the last possible moment. Those of us who think this are ALWAYS wrong.
But here’s a thought – we are always in the end times. OUR OWN end times. We should always be acting like the end is near, because THE END IS NEAR. We do not have eternity to make the choice to return to our Father. We do have eternity to either suffer the consequences of rejecting the Father, or eternity to enjoy His glory. The time to choose is now. We think we can wait until tomorrow to get out of the pig slop and start walking that road. But when tomorrow never comes….
“And he 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.”
Luke 15:11-13 ESV