“Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.”
– (Luke 15: 31–32)
CHEERING FOR THE FORGIVEN
Perhaps no story in the Gospel tells the story of redemption from a broken life better than the Parable of the Prodigal Son. In this story, one of the two sons of a wealthy man wandered off to a life opposite of what God and his father would have wanted for him.
The story starts with the youngest son requesting his inheritance early. His father then divided up his wealth and gave the younger son his part. The son traveled to a distant land and for a while, lived a life of luxury and sin. As we could guess, eventually he ran out of money; and unfortunately, his funds ran out at time of great famine in this distant land.
Finding no other work than feeding the pigs on a farm, he took that job, wondering many times why the pigs were fed better than himself. He had hit rock bottom and was alone and destitute in a faraway place. He had no future, no support system; the friends he’d had when he had money were a distant memory.
With what little he had he set off for his father’s house, thinking that if nothing else he could get a job as a hired hand. Then at least, he could be fed and sheltered and would have family close by. He prepared himself for his meeting with his father. He knew he would have to admit that he had sinned and squandered all he had been given. His thoughts were riveted on working hard to re-earn his father’s trust. Over and over in his mind, he reviewed his past and was deeply regretful. He was finally at a place to admit his sinful past, and ready to do whatever he could to regain a better life, even as his father’s hired hand.
As he approached the farm, he is stunned by the reception from his father, who greeted him with open arms and accepted him back fully. A very different reception than he had expected. Out of joy, his father held a lavish party for all to attend to celebrate the return of his son.
His older brother was upset at the extravagant acceptance his father showed to the younger son. Complaining, “Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!” (Luke [15:29]–30) All this was true.
His father replied, “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.” (Luke 15: 31–32)
“We will all get lost at some point.”
The son who had been lost was found, like us. We will all get lost at some point. We will all want a second chance. We all will want to try again. Whether we are rich or poor, we will all fall. Falling is not the end of the story; it is about forgiveness and a heart that wants to change, the story of our faith helping us recover from our own brokenness.
Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman