Parable of the Prodigal Son
Luke 15:11-32 (ESV)
11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 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. 13 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. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.
17 “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! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20 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. 21 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.’22 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. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
25 “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”
I have a particular interest in this parable because of its ending.
Comparing the Parable of the Prodigal Son to other parables Jesus taught, this one has a different kind of ending.
For example, the Parable of sower ended with clear understanding about fruitfulness and Jesus showed us how to be fruitful.
Parable of Mustard Seed, Jesus expounded how the kingdom God will grow from a seed of faith. Remember Jesus rebuked his disciples for lack of faith saying “if you have faith as small as a mustard seed …”
Let’s look at the Parable of the Prodigal Son again. There is something about story telling which did not play out completely in this parable.
We have heard all kind stories. Fairy tales usually ends with “they live happily ever after”. Hollywood actions movies usually end with the hero overcoming the villains, for example “James Bond 007” and “Johnny English”. And if the bad guy survives you know there will be a part two, part three coming.
In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, Jesus did not tell us how relationship between the two brothers continued. It ended with the father being left in a difficult situation between his two sons.
We know a lot about the younger son because he was the main theme of the parable.
We know about the elder brother because of his contradiction to the main theme of the parable.
We know what the father did, and we can relate how our Father in heaven show mercy to those who strayed and wanted to return.
But this Parable of the Prodigal Son seems to have a sudden ending.
It ended with a difficult situation where the father was trying to bring his two sons together and we do not know what happens next. Any parents with more than one children you will understand this kind of awkward difficult situation.
Sometime the most frequently spoken words and phrases between parents –
“What more can I say?”
“What more can I do?”
How often we ended up speechless ….
I am very thankful to Jesus for teaching us this Parable of the Prodigal Son and it kind of deliberately left us with a sudden ending as if we are supposed to continue the story.
Let’s pause for a moment and think about it. This Parable of the Prodigal Son in reality tells us so much about our life here on earth and all of us can relate to it.
Let me start with the big picture and narrow into the details
In the beginning when God created man and women, there was no race, no nationalities, no caste, no tribe, and no multiple languages that will complicate communications.
We know how human civilization had developed apart from God and without God.
Fast forward to today, in church and society we are part of, within the community we are co-existing together, every day we have our own Parable of the Prodigal Son situation to deal with.
I like to share a scripture from the Book of Psalm how we could continue our Parable of the Prodigal Son situation
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
For those of us who read our Bible, memorized scripture, we already knew what this scripture is about. But this is something for us to think about, reflect, meditate, and consider, especially if you are a father and a spiritual leader.
The word of God, is it for instruction or for relationship?
What I mean to say is, when we hear the word of God spoken to our hearts, and when we felt convicted of what we read in scriptures, how do our hearts and minds response to God?
Do we feel it’s an order that must be followed through without mistake?
Or rather do we see that God is helping us build better relationship, first with our Father in heaven, next with people around us?
Back to the Parable of the Prodigal Son again, in that story it was the same father who spoke to the two sons. The same father who spoke to the servants “kill the fatten calf”.
I will not criticize the elder son for not understanding his younger brother was lost and is found and that they should throw a party. Consider the fact he had been faithful and committed to his father’s house. God knows he deserve what he worked for!
But again I want to put forward this challenge
The word of God, is it for instruction or for relationship?
The kingdom of God, is it about relationship or instructions?
The church of the living God, is it about relationship or instructions?
The word of God will bring to light the secrets of our hearts and mind.
When men and women learn to develop good relationship first and foremost with God, we know how to be good to each other.
I like to end this message with –
Ephesians 3:17-19 (KJV)
17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.
Let’s pray …