Today I opened my bible to Luke 14 and 15. I read most of both chapters. Luke 15 has the story of the prodigal son. The son can’t wait for dad to die so can inherit his share and get out on his own. He squanders it all on prostitutes and partying and ends up broke and alone. He comes to his senses and decides to return to his father, repent and become a hired hand. His father sees him a long way off and…, well let’s just read it together.
““When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’ “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’ “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.”
The one son repented and returned. The other son the older son, I forgot to say there were two, was indignant and would not join in the festivities. My understanding of this part of the story is not as clear. The father attempts to reconcile the brothers. The point of this part of the story may be like the parable of the vineyard workers who were paid the same amount, whether they worked the whole day, or just a couple hours. Here is how Jesus told it:
““The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’ “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’”
Luke 15:28-32 –
Positionally I am more like the older son. But relationally I am more like the prodigal. I left Christianity even while attending church every Sunday. When I was in high school I created my own rules of conduct and did what pleased me. It was a life devoted to my pleasure. Eventually I did realize my moral bankruptcy and spiritual poverty and came to God, repenting and received sonship through the sacrifice of Gods son Jesus.
But now I am more the older son, who has labored in the kingdom for 38 years. How will I respond when wayward brothers come home? Do I, will I remember my own prodigal journey? Will I be gracious and merciful like my Father is?
There is more to this story and I’m not sure I’m getting all of it. But I am grateful to God for fresh remembering of his grace and mercy towards me. His love is open to everyone.