“He also said: “A man had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate I have coming to me.’ So he distributed the assets to them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered together all he had and traveled to a distant country, where he squandered his estate in foolish living. After he had spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he had nothing. Then he went to work for one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. He longed to eat his fill from the carob pods the pigs were eating, but no one would give him any. When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have more than enough food, and here I am dying of hunger! I’ll get up, go to my father, and say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. I’m no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired hands.’ So he got up and went to his father. But while the son was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion. He ran, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him. The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. I’m no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father told his slaves, ‘Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then bring the fattened calf and slaughter it, and let’s celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found! ’ So they began to celebrate.” Luke 15:11-24
Right after telling the parbable of the “Lost Sheep” and “Lost coin”, Jesus tells, possibly the most powerful parable of all He told (remember, a parable was a story about ordinary people doing ordinary things, but with a message that has eternal significance!)
So a wealthy man had 2 sons, the younger of which boldly asked for his share of the inheritance and left for a distant land. After a time, the young man had squandered his wealth and was quickly becoming destitute. Then famine hit the land. This was like the great depression. There was little money and few jobs. The once-rich young man began slopping hogs for a living. Before too long, he was so hungry that he desired to eat the slop with the hogs. He was at an all-time low when he realized, I could just go home! So he made a plan: he’d head for home, ask his father to forgive him for his stupidity and ask to be his slave. He figured, at least I’d have food and shelter there.
Upon returning home, it became apparent that his dad was actually waiting and watching for his son’s return. The father ran to meet him. He embraced and kissed the dirty boy, and abruptly interuppted the son’s rehearsed speech about wanting to be a slave. The father wept tears of joy and threw a banquet in his son’s honor!
Now there were SEVERAL things culturelly out of context in this story which made the story very awkward for Jesus’ listeners to hear. 1st, in their culture, the older son was automatically due to recieve half of the father’s, so the younger son’s request would have been met with severity and probably disownership, not as a request granted. 2nd the money squandered in a foriegn (heathen) country on detestible things like wild-women would have been unforgivable! 3rd, the young man’s employment with hogs would have been detestable, since pigs were considered to be unclean. Next, the father would have undoubtedly tried to break every emotional tie with his wayward son-he certainly wouldn’t have been looking for him. Next, rich men in this culture don’t run, hug and kiss filthy, unforgivable people, even if they are sons and lastly, by no means would a reinstatement party been thrown in this punk’s honor. By a stretch, in compassion, the father MIGHT HAVE granted his request to be a slave, but he would NEVER again be a son!
Now, let’s look at this story from Jesus’ angle: remember, the Father had 2 sons and one didn’t walk away–this would have been the Hebrew Nation. They had faithfully kept God’s Law, though it was done with such pride and piety that they actually DROVE people FROM God rather than ATTRACT people TO Him! The rest of the world, including most of us had taken the resources that God had given us, and squandered them away. We have acted in disregard to God’s Laws and have participated in the detestable things of the world. But here’s the awesome Truth: God loved us and the rest of the world so much that He’s not only watched and waited for our return, He’s faithfully called us and drawn us to Himself (John 3:16)! He’s welcomed us home and has thrown a party in our behalf (Luke 15:10). He’s given us a robe of righteousness (Eph 4:24) and has restored His authority within us to make us representitives of Him (2 Cor 5:20), just like the father in Jesus’ story did for his son!
Have you returned to the Father today? He’s calling you, drawing you and has sacrified Himself on the cross to correct the error of your sins! Return to Him today, and learn what it means to be loved by the Father in a lavishing way and what it means to be forgiven in all-encompassing way. He waiting for you!
Think about it!