Week 27: The Lost Son
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. Luke 15
In Luke 15, Jesus tells three parables in a row to illustrate the heart of God to save the lost. In the parable known as the “Prodigal Son” there are really two parts. This week we’ll focus on the younger son and next week we’ll focus on the older son.
You see, the younger son thinks he knows best and decides to leave his father and do life on his own. Not only that, but he asks for his inheritance to fund his rebellion. Essentially he is saying to his dad, “Dad, you’re dead to me. I don’t want you, I just want what your money.”
Well, later that son finds himself at rock bottom, feeding pigs. You see, rebellion always feels like freedom at first, but it can only lead to death or bondage. It’s at his lowest moment that the boy finally “comes to himself.”
Often it is the grace of God that allows us to experience rock bottom. For many of us, it is only then that we will look up to the God that loves us. And even though the son knows that his only hope is to go back home to his father, he has a total misunderstanding of what going home means. He thinks that when he gets home he will work as one of his father’s servants. He thinks that he will have to earn his way back and that he will never be welcomed as family.
Sadly today, many church people feel the same way. They feel like the only way their Heavenly Father would take them back, is if they work for their righteousness. Well, Jesus blows that thought process away in this parable. The actions of the father demonstrate the grace and the mercy of God poured out for us in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
First of all, the father sees his son from a long way off. You see, salvation is not just for those that are close, but especially for those that feel that they are far away from God. The father runs to his son. Our God is the kind of God that relentlessly pursues His rebellious children. He bows down and he hugs his son who is covered in pig filth. This would have been humiliating to do in the first century, ESPECIALLY for a man of such stature.
And part of the reason that he embraces his son is to protect his son from his servants. Many in the father’s household would think that this boy deserves to be stoned. And so the father puts himself in a position to protect his son, at great expense to himself.
Already at this point, the crowd would have been blown away by the compassion of this father. And then he then continues. He then proceeds to wrap his filthy son in his perfectly clean robe. It’s a picture of the imputed righteousness of Christ. The crowd would no longer see the boy’s filth, but they would see the spotless robe of the father.
He puts a signet ring on his hand. He is telling his boy that his past no longer defines him. The son is not identified by his rebellion, but now, his son is primarily identified by his relationship with his father. And then he gives him his sandals.
In this transaction, he is adopting his son back into the family. You see, only Sons received sandals. And then the father throws a party to celebrate his son’s salvation. He was lost and now he was found. He was dead and now he is alive.
Church, just allow that to sink in. That God PURSUES us. That God LOVES us. That God COVERS us. That God ADOPTS us. And God CELEBRATES our salvation in Him. He is a GOOD, GOOD Father. That’s just who He is.
Now, may you meditate upon that truth and may that truth draw you DEEPER and DEEPER into a relationship with Him.