One of Jesus’ most famous parables is the story of a man who had two sons. His youngest son was fed up with the day to day lifestyle of living at home under Dad’s rules. One day, he decided to take his share of his inheritance and head off to the big city. In other words, this son wanted the benefits of his dad, without his dad. Have you ever treated God this way? It’s the what can God do for me mentality.
Amazingly, the father in the story agreed and gave him his share of the inheritance. Without a word, the son packed his things and left home. Pretty soon, his partying lifestyle got the best of him and all his money dried up. Out of options and with nowhere left to turn, this son came crawling back home. Acutely aware of how badly he had messed up, he begged his father for forgiveness and the chance to simply work on the estate. The role of son? No way! He knew he didn’t have the right to ask that after turning his back on his father and his family.
It’s easy to judge this young, arrogant, and entitled son. He doesn’t even deserve a job on his father’s estate – and yet, the power of this story is in the father’s response. In a culture where honor and shame is everything, the outright disrespect the son showed his father would justify the father sending the son away without a second thought. And yet the father RAN to greet his son with joy. He dressed him in the best clothes and threw a giant party. Why? Because his youngest son, this prodigal son, had come home.
Jesus uses this story to paint a very clear picture of repentant faith. In other words, Jesus is talking about recognizing our own sins and turning back towards God, our heavenly Father. It’s about receiving God’s abundant love and grace in spite of our sin and shame. We definitely don’t deserve it, but like the father in the story, God is ready and waiting if we will only return home.