READ LUKE 15:11-32
Jesus was a great story teller. His stories held His audience captive, because they could easily relate. His audience consisted of every day people like you and me. His critics were also among them. These fellows were on the look out for something they could pin on Jesus to stop Him. He was a heretic who was turning the people against them. The Pharisees and scribes knew Jesus’ message was getting through to the masses. All pertaining to their traditional, ritualistic religion was at stake. As they saw Him associating with the scum of the community they asked Him why He hung out with those guys.
At that point, our story teller masterfully relayed three parables. A parable is a story people can understand with a moral to end it – an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.
In each one of these parables Jesus expounded on those who are lost and how important they are to God, the Father of us all. The third story is one we probably all know. It deals with the prodigal son – a young man, born of a wealthy father, who felt he was entitled to his inheritance before his father’s passing. He wanted to sow his wild oats and he wanted it NOW!
The word ‘prodigal’ refers to someone living a lavish lifestyle who squanders every last cent. The Prodigal in the story is not just the needy, entitled, spoiled son, but it also refers to the father who gave him everything and the brother who was jealous of him. As with all of Jesus’ stories, there is more than one lesson to learn.
Jesus weaves a masterful tale depicting the three men. The obvious lesson is that of the father, who loved his son so much he was willing to give in to his child’s every need. How many dads do you know like that? They want the best for their children. They think that means giving them material things.
The second character is the prodigal son. When he received his inheritance, he quickly went through it by squandering every cent on foolish, sinful living. When things got so bad that he was eating with pigs, he decided to go home and ask for forgiveness. He was embarrassed, ashamed, physically whipped and at the end of his rope. Do we sometimes wait until that point before we come to our heavenly father? We go through life, believing we’ve got this, only to realize we don’t have it at all.
When the boy returned home, his father was waiting with open arms. When our kids leave the nest today, we often think that’s the end of our parenting. When they return to live with us again, we might selfishly turn them away.
The third character in the story was the man’s other son. He couldn’t believe what he was witnessing. Here was his ‘bad boy’ brother, coming home to roost as his father ordered his servants to heat up the barbecue and grill a cow. He was stunned, angry, jealous, unappreciative and believed his brother should have been shunned instead of treated like a super star.
The point Jesus was trying to make through these three parables was that He didn’t come to save those who were already with Him (His believers.) He was born for a much bigger job – to search for, to love and care for those who were lost. He would do anything, including give His life for them. Aren’t we blessed to have a Father like that?