I was thinking about the prodigal son. How he asked his father for his inheritance before the father died. How the father gave it to him. How this son of his spent it on his lusts until it was gone. How this son was very far away from home.
Then one day he looked up. That’s always a good place to start a recovery program.
He took stock. Another good decision. Where did he get his wisdom all of a sudden with such a track record of debauchery?
He came to his senses. Now things are coming together.
He was living in squalor, in a foreign country, feeding pigs. It couldn’t get more crazy than this. He started off with a fortune in his pocket and ended up hungry, thirsty and living with pigs, wishing he could eat their food.
He decides to go home.
The Father is waiting.
He runs to meet his son and throws his arms around him and kisses him.
Me? I would tell him he needs a bath.
I’d be offended that it was his growling belly that brought him home and not me.
But God was in the hunger. God was in his thinking. God was where home was.
Home many of us have wanted to come back to, but haven’t been able.
Perhaps for you there’s no home to come home to. No family because they’re dead.
Or maybe you’re the older brother that never left home. You’ve shouldered the responsibility for the family, you’ve been the dutiful one, and your father has never taken notice. You were expected to take the mantle. That’s what older sons are for. To continue running the business you never started. It’s your father’s livelihood you’ve inherited, not your own. Maybe your heart’s not in it, but there you are because you’re the only one left standing. It’s yours by default. Your younger brother never cared to do the right thing. Your faithfulness allowed his unfaithfulness.
The father throws his wayward son a party he’s so happy to have him back.
The elder brother is not happy to see him back. He’s resentful, angry, hurt. Did the father throw him a party because he was dutiful and faithful? No. Did the father throw his arms around him and kiss him out of gratefulness for his obedience? No.
Why not? Remember this parable was directed to the Pharisees and Scribes who were listening.
It’s because real sons of the Father know what pit they were dug from. They know they don’t deserve the Father’s love. They understand the condition of their own hearts and without the Father’s compassion and mercy, they would not be any better than their resentful elder brothers.
It’s the condition of the heart of faith that is the subject of this parable. The Pharisees and Scribes didn’t have it. The elder brother didn’t have it. Only the prodigal in his filthy rags of repentance demonstrated it.
Talk to me.