Luke 15:11-13,17,20 – “To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons. The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons. “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. “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! “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. NLT
This parable is used a lot in sermons on Father’s Day, so I decided to do the same. In our Bible, the subtitle over this parable is “The Prodigal Son”, but most would say that this parable should be labeled, “The Loving Father” because it is more about the father’s love for his sons, then the sons themselves. You will have to read the entire parable on your own.
Jesus tells a parable about a father and his two sons. The youngest son asks the father for his inheritance. Under Jewish law, the elder son would inherit the largest portion of the wealth (two-thirds), and the other son would inherit the rest (one-third). The father gets the money together, gives it to his son, and his son leaves. The son spends all he had on living large, a famine hits, and he finds himself feeding pigs. When he comes to his senses, he decided to head home to be a servant in his father’s house. The father receives him warmly, the big brother isn’t happy, but the father says he was lost but now is found! That’s it in a nutshell!
The youngest son hurt his father in asking for his inheritance, which he wasn’t entitled to until the death of his father. What insult this must have been to the father! The son then leaves, with his money, and goes to enjoy his life and freedom. He spends everything quicker than he could have imagined, then a famine sets in. What a waste of money, time, and life! After he hits rock bottom, he decides going home as a servant is better than the life that he is living.
The elder son on the other hand is at home taking care of business. He and his brother may not have been close before he left, but he definitely isn’t feeling his brother after he leaves. When his brother was home, he may have had some help with the work, but now he has to manage things on his own. He is probably becoming angrier by the day.
The father loves both his sons. He is hurt that his youngest son has left, but instead of using manipulation or his authority to keep his son at home, he releases him. He continues life at home, but always with an eye on the road for his son to return home. He watches daily for him, probably with much concern and much prayer.
Then the son returns! Hallelujah! The father is so excited. He sees the son before he arrives and rushes out to greet him. He embraces his son as one who was lost and puts a robe on him, restoring his honor as a son. He gives him a ring, restoring his authority as a son. He gives him shoes, restoring his place of sonship. Then he gives him a party, restoring their relationship, for he deemed him as lost, but now found. Much love and much forgiveness was extended to this son.
The youngest son, has returned a broken young man. He is starving and humbled. He has realized the weight of all he has done and feel unworthy to be called a son. He has decided that his life is so bad off, even being a servant at home is better than what he has in the pig pen. He is probably embarrassed and ready to be attacked by his older brother, disowned by his father, and disrespected by the servants. But he returns to his father. Not his home, his father!
The elder son was not called from his work to join the party. So when he comes in for the evening a realizes a party is being given to celebrate the return of his brother, he is angry and refuses to join in. The father finds him outside and tries to talk some sense in him. The son says that he has never had a kid killed for him to make merry with his friends, even though he had served him faithfully. He was hurt that his brother, who he imagined to have done the vilest things in life while away, was being treated as if he had returned from a long journey, instead of leaving with his inheritance, leaving them all behind! Although he wasn’t called from work to join the party, he was expected to join in the festivities. The father tries to reassure the elder son that his place and inheritance was secure. This didn’t mean that he was loved less. But it was right to celebrate the return of his brother!
This is another parable that is full of meaning, and too hard to truly digest in a blog. The father’s great love represents, our heavenly Father’s great love for us. We can never do anything that will separate us from His love. He is always willing to forgive us, and to receive us back into the fold. This is what Jesus wanted us to know. The younger son’s attitude when he returned to the father, is the attitude that we should have when we sin. It’s against the father that we sin, and to the father we must return and ask forgiveness. The lowest place in the kingdom of God, is better than the highest place outside the kingdom. Then the attitude of the elder son is not the right attitude. All that he said was true, but to not be excited at the return of the brother, shows that the elder son had his own issues he needed to repent of.
I could’ve easily titled this, “How is This Even Fair, part 2”, because that was exactly the heart of the elder son. It is difficult for some people to understand the loving nature of the Father. The Jews had difficulty understanding the Father’s love for the Gentiles. Some have a hard time understanding “jailhouse” salvation. While others have difficulty understanding, deathbed salvations. But that is only because they have a hard time understanding the heart of a truly loving Father! He is always willing, ready, and waiting to embrace us and bring us back to Himself. This Father’s Day, return to the love of the Father! Don’t worry about what others think, when the Father is watching for your return!
A very happy and blessed Father’s Day to all of the dads who read this blog, and those whose loved ones read this blog! God bless you richly! Wonderful Jesus!