Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Parable of the Lost Son

Luke 15:11-32

11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
   13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
   17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.

When he came to his senses... So many times, we think we know best. We know what will make us happy. We know what is good or bad for our lives. We take control. Because if we're in control, at least we know what's going to happen. Which is usually the exact opposite in most cases. Something we think is good could be detrimental to us in the long run. And something we think is bad, turns out to be one of the best things that could ever happen to us. 

But when we come to our senses, and return to our Father, he shows us the way.
   “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

 But while he was still a long way off....  The son didn't even have to time to explain to his father that he was sorry or confess to how awful he had acted. In reality, the father had no idea why the son was coming back. He could have been coming back to ask for more money. But the father didn't care. He RAN to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. (If we just turn in God's direction, he RUNS to us. "I'm coming for you!")
   21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
   22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

Notice what happened? The son hoped to be a servant in his father's house, and instead, he was given more love and gifts than he thought he deserved. And you know what, he's right. What did he deserve? He deserved to work for his meals after demanding his living and throwing it away on meaningless pleasures. Instead, because his father LOVED him so much... he was given gifts and a celebration. When we return to Jesus, we don't get a cold shoulder. We get a welcome embrace from a Father who RUNS to meet us.
   25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’
   28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
   31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

I feel like this is such an important part of the story. The older brother. He's done exactly what his father asked of him, but he never got a fattened calf for a celebration with his friends...he never even got a young goat. But look at what his father says. "You are always with me, and everything I have is yours." The older brother was trying to earn favor with his father, when in reality, he already had it! Everything his father owned was already his! He was trying to earn what he already possessed.

There is nothing in the world that you can do to make Jesus love you more than he already does. And guess what... There is nothing in the world that you can do to make Jesus stop loving you either. I wish more people could experience the love of Jesus. We get so wrapped up in religion and habit that we lose sight of what is most important: sharing the love of the Father with everyone we meet.

Thank you to Joyce Meyer for giving me a revelation in this area of my life.

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