May 22.2022

And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 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. 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. – Luke 15:11 -13 ESV

This is why this parable is called, The Prodigal Son. It is that parable with the son who took all his inheritance and lavishly spent it all on wine, women and wild. He was bored with his life, and he wanted the good life and he deserved to be happy and to live life to the fullest, so he went to the far country to LIVE IT UP! That is why it is called the parable of the PRODIGAL SON. When I was younger I thought that prodigal had to do with going off the deep end, getting lost, and then returning- strangely that has been loosely added as a definition of the word. But originally; (Adjective)Spending money or resources freely and recklessly; wastefully extravagant. Having or giving something on a lavish scale. (Noun) A person who spends money in a recklessly extravagant way. The story’s main character is the ‘prodigal son’, the one who spent dad’s inheritance freely and recklessly, on a lavish scale. Even though the found, lost, then found again son is the lead character, the parable is about far more than son #1. It is about son #2, it is about me, and it is about you. When we call the younger son the “prodigal” son, we think it means that he rejected his father’s love and ran from home. This story is not about how a sinner becomes a son. The story is about how a son becomes a sinner. Both of the boys were sinning, and both of the boys needed GRACE and MERCY from the FATHER. None of us can be GOODNUFF for Father God, we need grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

Leader, our lack of understanding of words leads many to think the word prodigal has something to do with being rebellious. Yes, the son was rebellious- BOTH OF THEM, but that is not what the word means and since we are talking about it let’s take a look at SON #2. The older son also rejected his father and his father’s love- It just looks different. Son #2 has the SIN OF WORKS, better known as RELIGION. The older son rejected his father through self-sufficiency, through morality, it was WORKS BASED- he earned it. Hear the Word of the Lord; 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. (Luke 15:29) The sins of the other son could be greed, pride, dishonor, grumbling, resentment, self-righteousness, covetousness…. He thought he deserved the father’s blessing. He was owed it. He checked the right boxes, showed up on the right days, and did the right things, now PAY ME MY DUE! The problem is that if we get what is DUE, we are in deep DOO DOO! For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

Conduit, in understanding this parable and any part of the Bible we need to understand context. Who was Jesus talking to? What was Jesus talking about, prior to this? What was the lead in conversation, what was the theme or his NARRATIVE, at the time of this “scriptural nugget”? Jesus told the story to religious people who felt like they deserved God’s love and sinful people did not. The reason Jesus told this story was to address the objections of the religious legalists. They couldn’t understand why Jesus was teaching that God was for sinners who had rejected God. Jesus was trying to show them that they had also rejected God, just in a different way, and in a way that gave them the appearance of being good rather than bad. Jesus told 2 parables, leading into the prodigal son. 1st, The Parable of the Lost Sheep. 99 are safe, one is lost. He leaves the 99 to find the one. (Luke 15:3-7) 2nd, The Parable of the Lost Coin. She had 10 coins, one was lost she only had 9 left. She scoured the house till she found the lost one. (Luke 15:8-10) Both parables end the same way; there is great JOY, and both require REPENTANCE! All of heaven REJOICES when ONE SINNER REPENTS! Repent means to turn, to change your mind, to do something different. One dictionary defines repent: to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one’s life. Usually repentance does NOT happen without CONFESSION. That word confess means, TO AGREE WITH GOD! This is why the heavens REJOICE when one sinner repents, because they are agreeing with God that HE IS RIGHT, and they are not! One of the learnings from this parable is that we have ALL rejected the love of our Father. Some of us run from home in outright rebellion. Others of us stay home, check the boxes, follow a regimen, or what some call a religion- and begin to think God owes us. We don’t need His grace because we earned His love, we checked the boxes, we deserve His love. Then we can look for what we get out of our relationship with God, vs our relationship with God. Just like today, the day Jesus told this parable there were “sinners” gathered around him, and there were religious people. The sinners easily found themselves in the story, realizing that like the younger son they had rejected God. The religious people didn’t find themselves in the story; they didn’t see themselves in the older brother. My guess is that still today, religious people struggle to see the ways they’ve rejected God. No matter which one you are- we all need JESUS, and we all need FORGIVENESS! For we ALL FALL SHORT of the Glory of God!


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