If you grew up in the church like me, you are probably very familiar with the story of the lost son or (lost sheep, or coin), which are very similar, but you may not have understood the beauty of the story. See the beauty of the story lies in the father’s responses and the father’s response in the story reflects our Heavenly father’s response to us. Luke 15: 11-24 is the story of the Prodigal Son, who had everything, but squandered his inheritance for a New life.
The Parable of the Lost Son
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.
“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.
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.
I have always loved this story and I loved how the speaker this morning unpacked so much knowledge and application. Did you notice how the father treated his son upon returning? He wasn’t mad at him, or upset that he had left and used up all his inheritance. But instead, he saw his son’s true condition and was compassionate towards him. The father did not punish the son, or make him feel unworthy, or horrible for the way he behaved, but instead the father looked on him with mercy and compassion. This is how God is to us… When we go astray and we allow sin to take us over, God isn’t there judging or wanting to punish us, he instead wants to welcome us home with compassion.
The father was also approachable and affectionate. The son knew he could return home and that he could tell his father of his failures and his father would not turn him away. He remembered the home of his youth and how his father had loved him, and he knew that even if he were a slave in his father’s house, he would be treated better than how he had been in other houses. I loved this quote that the speaker used today ” Approach-ability removes their fear of telling you of their failures.” God is approachable in the same way as the father was… He so desperately wants us to come to him, even when we have failed or messed up.
The father raises self-esteem and motivates achievement. The self-esteem that had been stripped from the boy due to the circumstances he found himself in, were restored. The son had reached his lowest point- a slave, servant and starving. The son felt that he didn’t deserve anything good for the way he had treated his father and he had resolved that even being a servant of his father’s would be a better life than what he was living. But the father would not have it! He brought his son back to a place of respect and self-esteem, placing new shoes and a new robe on him, welcoming him back in as his son. He motivates achievement by giving his son a ring, symbolizing his authority and the giving of authority to his son. The world only wants to strip you from your confidence, your self-esteem, but God wants to give it back to you- You were created for so much more!
The father puts grace over the law and He loves to celebrate. The father was shocked when his son showed up barefoot. When a person was a servant or became a servant, they were stripped of their shoes and made to walk around barefoot. The father seeing that he was barefoot, would not have it- He had the servants bring shoes to place on his feet. The father freed his son from slavery, by placing shoes on his feet and he showed grace over the law. And because his son had come home, he was ready to celebrate with the BEST: the best robe, shoes, and fattened calf.
So what can we learn from this story?
It is a story of a Father and His heart for his child.
The father is God and the son is us. God sees us where we are, in our tattered, torn up lives, dirtied by sin, and he shows us compassion. He wants us to come to him, he wants us to see him as approachable and a loving God. He wants to raise our self-esteem and allow us to see ourselves through His eyes. He wants to motivate us to achieve all that He has created us to be and he gives us grace instead of law. His grace says that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us-” He loved us enough to lay down His life for us. And he celebrates when we come back to Him, just like the Father in this story.
Luke15:24 ‘For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
I don’t know where you’re at in your life, but what I do know is that God so desperately wants you to know Him, and not what the world labels him as, but who he truly is. He desperately wants to show his love and grace and celebrate with you. This is the Father’s heart for YOU!
Have you tried going to Him lately? Have you allowed the world to tell you that you’re not ________( fill in the blank)? Have you allowed Him to shower his love on you and celebrate with you?
What are you waiting for?
Blessings to you, Erin Ruscel