Luke 15: 11-32
The parable of the Lost Son is a story which most of us have heard many times, it has been taught in Sunday Schools across the country for ever. More often than not we hear about the son and how he left like a dirty sinner, but this parable is also such a picture of the heart of God.
When Jesus was sharing this parable, he was talking to a mixed audience - the religious leaders of the day and also the gentiles and the 'sinners'. Jesus was painting a picture of how the Father responds to all of us and what it means to live in the Father's house - God's Kingdom.
When the younger son said to his father 'give me what's mine and I'm off' - what he was actually saying to the father was 'I wish you were dead', because in Hebrew culture you do not receive the inheritance until your father is dead. The son knew he had access to the father's possessions and wealth but he wanted to make a go of it himself and make his own path; his own fortune.
So he spent everything that the father had given him - but instead of the world helping him, the world judged him. When he had money he had friends, but when he squandered it the world turned on him and he became a slave to the world. Eventually he managed to land the worst job possible for a Jewish boy - working with the pigs, the un-holiest of animals. By this point he had completely lost any sense of identity and perspective, he ate what the pigs ate and he saw himself as one of them. The word says he 'came to his senses' and wanted to return home. However, now he rated himself lower than he ever had before and felt he could claim only to become one of his fathers' servants. He felt he was only worthy now to work for his Dad. So he began the journey home, stinking of pig poo. The Bible says that from a long way off his father saw him (this must have meant the father was looking out for him hard). Before the boy had time to start his rehearsed speech, the father lavished his love and acceptance over him (before he'd had a bath!) Dad didn't wait for the son to go and freshen up; he brought out the robes which covered his filth and gave his dirty feet the sandals denoting his sonship and even killed the fatted calf.
The other son was utterly astounded at the audacity of his brother and the generosity of his father. He whined about the fact his brother had mucked everything up and squandered his share of the wealth. He didn't see why his brother should get the best whilst he never received anything like that despite staying around and being a good obedient son, working hard all day long. The father explained that he had free access to the full riches of the house at all times.
The parable shows the father heart of God to us in so many ways. Those times in our lives where we take what God has given us and try to make it on our own, he still looks out for us with open arms to welcome us back into his house and reinstate us as his children - not servants, even when we feel like we smell of spiritual pig poo! This can be true, not just of the blatant backslider who goes off the rails and ends up washed up and miserable, but in all areas of our lives where we cannot trust God so 'leave the house' to make a go of it ourselves. When we get into relationships that hurt and disappoint us because we didn't think God had the perfect person for us, or when we waste our money and possessions.
Father God also wants to show us that as children in His house we have access to everything of the Father - think about that, all Father God has is ours. As children in the house we will get the Godly inheritance! It's not cooler and more exciting to go out and blow it all and then come back with a bang. A much more fulfilled life can be had living in God's house knowing that everything that God has is yours including acceptance, loving relationships, fruitful lives and peaceful hearts.
We want to encourage you today to trust God that he has his best for you and he wants to give it to you, despite the way you may see yourself. If you find yourself outside of the Fathers house, run quickly to him for his arms are open wide and Father God wants to show you that you belong to him and are his child. If you find yourself in the 'house' don't miss the point - find out what the riches of the Father are and enjoy them in this life and the next.
Remember Father God is always looking out for you, whether you are in his house or not and he is waiting for you to come to him and understand his heart.The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
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