Sermons, books, paintings, and more, have detailed the story of the Prodigal Son from Luke 15. I’m guessing this is such a popular teaching of Jesus because each of us can relate to one (or all) of the characters.
Maybe we once set off on a path of selfishness and irresponsible choices and hit rock bottom.
Maybe our self righteousness got the better of us in a weak moment of judging others.
Or maybe we have experienced the joy of reconciling a relationship.
What’s so amazing about the Word of God is that it is LIVING. It is ETERNAL. It has POWER. The Word is God and is not bound by time. While the Word of God does not change – our response and our experience with the Word does change. We receive, relate to, and understand the Word differently at different times in our lives.
I can think of seasons where I could really relate to the son and his disregard for others or himself. I can relate to the brother – who is working so hard to earn his father’s favor and yet harboring resentment and self-righteousness. And I have celebrated estranged family members that have reunited.
Within each of these characters, the Lord is at work. He was at work in humbling the Son, He was at work providing grace for the Father to extend, and He was at work in the brother’s life, giving him a second chance to join in the celebration.
How is the Lord working in your life? Do you need to take steps forward like the Father for a deeper reconciliation? Or admit your sin against God and against man and seek forgiveness? This story is layered with wisdom and life lessons.
The overall focus of this lesson appears to be the joy of the salvation for the Son. This series started with the lost sheep, then the lost coin, and now the lost Son. While there are many more sheep, many more coins, and even many more souls, God stops and celebrates the ONE. Each are greatly valued, while in the midst of other greatly valued things. But even the one “lost and then found” item or person is still abundantly valuable to the kingdom. And to be celebrated! Can you imagine the party happening when one soul makes a decision to turn from sin and turn to salvation? How would our lives look and feel differently if we really celebrated the “found” in our world?
As a parent I can relate to the joy of the Father that his Son is physically back home. I have felt gratitude for a kid that comes with a humble heart seeking change. I have even celebrated spiritual steps forward in our children’s faith journey. Parenthood comes with an unconditional love that leaves our arms and hearts open.
As we are all God’s children, and He sees us all with this same love, how can we see each other through those same Father’s eyes? How do we get our arms open and meet people in the middle, when they aren’t our children? How do we celebrate the person that once sinned against us but is now seeking change? It seems easier when they are our children – which gives us a glimpse into God’s perfect heart and perfect ways. The love I have for my children is an imperfect version of the love God has for me. And even for my enemies.
God, thank you for your living Word that moves and changes us. You are the perfect Father, with perfect love and grace for all of your children. Help us to shine that same love to all of your children while we are here. Amen.