God Knows…When Somebody’s Goofed – Part 2
After Jesus told the stories about the lost sheep and the lost coin, He told a third story. This one was about a boy who CHOSE to get lost. It’s also about his father and his older brother.
“Dad, how about dividing up your property now?” a young man suggested one day. “I need some money NOW. I don’t want to wait till you’re dead to do what I want to do.” The son was tired of living at home. He was tired of being told what to do. He wanted to get out on his own and do as he pleased.
His father was a wise and loving man. He did not argue. He knew that his son’s plans weren’t the best. But he knew that if his stubborn son was ever to learn, he must learn the hard way. So the father divided his property between his two boys.
“This is great!” thought the younger man. He felt free to do as he pleased. He took to the road, and before long was far from home. He began spending his money on whatever pleased him. Quickly he made many new friends. They helped him spend his money and led him into all kinds of sin. “What freedom! What friends! What fun!” he thought.
But then something happened. He ran out of money! Do you think his friends helped him out? Not at all. These weren’t real friends. They were his friends only as long as he had money.
To make matters worse, a famine spread over the land. Food was scarce and so were jobs. But he finally found work—caring for pigs.
Sitting among the pigs one day, feeling hungry enough to eat the husks the pigs were eating, he had en epiphany. While thinking about home, he realized “My father’s hired servants have plenty of food, and here I am starving to death.” He made up his mind. “I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants” (Luke 15:17-19).
He started home. Day after day he walked. Finally he rounded the last curve. Who was running toward him? His father! Ignoring the dirty, smelly rags his son wore, the father threw his arms around his son in a long, clinging, tender hug. The boy tried to speak. “Father, I have sinned against heaven and…” He’d had so many miles to practice this speech. But his father didn’t give him a chance to finish. Taking off his own robe, he wrapped it around his son. Then he called to the servants and gave them quick orders. There would be a banquet to celebrate this wonderful day.
But not everyone was happy. The older brother was actually SORRY that his brother had come home. He refused to join the dinner party. When his father went out and talked with him, he angrily complained, “For years I’ve stayed home and worked for you. You never had a party for me!”
“But son, you’ve always been with me and all that I have is yours,” his father reminded him. “We had to rejoice and be glad,” added the father. “Your brother was lost and now he is found.”
Jesus did not tell how the story ended. The story of the lost boy still goes on. Someone chooses to turn his back on God. He expects to have more fun doing as he pleases…But what happens? He finds that he has goofed. The glitter disappears and he discovers he is a slave bound by “the cords of his sin” (Proverbs 5:22). Whoever tries to live apart from God is wasting his years, his powers of mind and heart. “Prodigal” means wasteful or recklessly extravagant and that is why this story is often called the parable of the Prodigal Son. But really it is the parable of the Loving Father. God is a Father who loves every one of us beyond our understanding; no matter how much we goof, He loves the sinner and welcomes us home. When the runaway son discovers that he is loved by his Father and he is forgiven for his rotten past, what love comes into his heart! He is now willing to do ANYTHING to please his dad.
The story of the older brother repeats itself. He’s the person who jealously criticizes and complains. His brother goofed and he doesn’t want to forgive him. He doesn’t want ANYBODY to forgive him. He thinks he’s better than his brother and it makes him mad, mad, mad that their dad is willing to take back the dirty rascal. The older brother needs to let the sunshine of his father’s love melt away the ice of selfishness filling his heart. The joyful party WILL go on and the returned son will have his place with the father—even if the older brother decides to stay outside.
Do you fit into this story somewhere? Where? It’s something to think about.
Where to find the story: Luke 15
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