2003-10-08 - The Prodigal Son
Originally Published 2001-03-28
Luke 15:25-27 (The Message) All this time his older son was out in the field. When the day's work was done,he came in. As he approached the house, he heard the music and dancing. Calling over one of the houseboys, he asked what was going on. He told him, "Your brother came home. Your father has ordered a feast-barbecued beef!-because he has him home safe and sound." The older brother stalked off in an angry sulk and refused to join in.
Ever felt like the older brother? I have. When we were growing up, my two older brothers seemed to always be getting into trouble. Seeing them in hot water was a deterrent for me to try to stay out of serious mischief, myself. Or perhaps I was just good at not getting caught! Let's get honest with each other. How many times have you looked at another family member, co-worker, neighbor, classmate or friend and had feelings of jealousy and anger come over you? Like the older brother, you and I sulk and fume because we feel like we are doing everything right, while they live far outside the foul lines -- yet they seem to suffer no consequences. I know I have done this. I scream at God, "Hey God, what about me? What about all the good I am doing? Where are my blessings, God?"
Let's eavesdrop on the older son: Luke 15:29-30 (The Message) The son said, "Look how many years I've stayed here serving you, never giving you one moment of grief, but have you ever thrown a party for me and my friends? Then this son of yours who has thrown away your money on whores shows up, and you go all out with a feast!"
The older son is the other lost son in this parable. It really should be titled, "Two Lost Sons." The younger son was lost in his sinful living; the older son was lost in his pride. The younger son was lost far away from his father; the older son was lost at home. Both were equally apart from and out of fellowship with their father.
I have heard church members say of people that have never been to church, "those people need to clean up their act, put on their Sunday best, learn our songs and our creeds and then come to our church." If you think like that, you have it as backwards as trying to catch fish already cleaned. You have to catch the fish first. I find it interesting that the Father went out to the older son and pleaded with him to come inside the home, just as we need to go outside the walls of church and into the fields, to the lost people of our world.
Luke 15:31-32 (The Message) His father said, "Son, you don't understand. You're with me all the time, and everything that is mine is yours-but this is a wonderful time, and we had to celebrate. This brother of yours was dead, and he's alive! He was lost, and he's found!"
The older brother never lost anything while the younger son was gone. The older brother received his inheritance in advance, just as the younger son had. The older brother had much more than an inheritance under his belt. He had the joy of living and being with his father daily. But his spiritual pride and his self-centeredness prevent him from appreciating the great blessings around him.
So where are you in the parable? I seem to bounce around from being the younger son, to being the older son -- wandering away from home at times, and at other times wanting everything to myself while I am home. Our goal is to be like the third son, who is the narrator of the parable. The third son, Christ, is our model. Our Heavenly Father is no different from these boys' dad. He is a very loving yet just Father, wanting nothing more from us than ourselves. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can strive to be like Christ, and in turn, we have a right relationship with our Father in Heaven.
I pray this series has been as much of a blessing to you, as writing it was for me. I pray that you all will be more sensitive to those that are prodigals around us, both lost people who do not know the love of God and people who have wandered from the faith. If you are one of these lost people, I pray that you will come home or back home. If you were lost, stop beating yourself up, and fully enjoy the blessings in our home. If you are like the older brother in the story, I pray you will stop looking inward and start looking outward to the lost people around you. Reach out to them and help bring them home.
Father, through Your Holy Spirit give us the boldness, strength and wisdom to reach out to the lost people in our lives. In Christ's name, Amen.
Comments or questions?