The Bible is filled with many wonderful accounts that reveal the characteristics of God. One such story is about the prodigal son. It’s a parable demonstrating God’s mercy, grace and forgiveness. The fifteenth chapter of Luke has three accounts in it showing God’s love toward both the sinner and the saint. Those who are not familiar with the prodigal son, let’s do a brief rundown of the parable found in Luke 15:11-32.
A father had two sons; the youngest went before him asking for his inheritance. The son took that inheritance and went into a foreign land. While living in this foreign land he squandered all that he had on prostitutes and partying. Once he blew through his money the Bible tells us a great famine came to the land.
Times became hard, and the son had to take a job feeding pigs. He was so hungry he became envious of what they were eating. Upon regaining his senses, he realized the servants of his father were better off then he was. He decided to go back to his father, repent of the wrongs he had done and beg to be hired as a servant.
The father being full of love and compassion saw the son coming and immediately ran to him. He hugged and kissed him, clothed him and threw a huge party to welcome him home.
Meanwhile, the oldest son returns from working on the farm and sees the party going on. He becomes jealous and angry of how his father was treating his brother.
This son believes since he’s been loyal to his father he should be rewarded. He questions his father’s mercy to the younger son. The father tells his son, “don’t be angry everything I have is yours.”
Before we go any further let’s examine some things. In the Old Testament days, the Jewish culture followed their traditions.
The younger son would have had about a third of his father’s riches given to him at the appropriate time. It was unconventional during those days for the son to ask for his inheritance. Because of the son’s request he would have likely been disowned.
The son coming to the father asking for his inheritance was like the son saying, “I wish you were dead.” The son was not very wise and was spending his future for the sake of momentary pleasures of the here and now. He had a sense of entitlement that we see many in the world have today.
The father showed that he loved his son unconditionally when he gave him his inheritance. He didn’t disown him or speak cruelly to him. He gave the son what he asked for. We want to take a look at two people represented in this story. The father is God and the younger son a believer who goes astray.
There are many children of God who are like the younger son, they believe they can live their lives without the guidance and instruction of the father. They are part of the family but have a streak of rebellion in them, and as such they seek to find their own way. They forsake the wisdom found in knowing and having an intimate relationship with the father.
Without that relationship with God, life is more often harder to endure. When a person doesn’t have God’s wisdom, foolish mistakes are made. During these times, unwise decisions are made that bring unnecessary sorrow into our lives.
Even when those bad choices bring pain, we tend to hold onto our pride. We look to our own accomplishments trying to find satisfaction in them. Hopefully, if we ever get into the mindset of the prodigal, we too will come to our senses and remember how blessed it is to be a child of the father.
The story of the prodigal shows us the very nature of God. The father, God, gives the son grace which is undeserved. The son had sinned, but the father was willing to forgive. The father showed mercy to the son by not punishing him for the wrongs he committed.
This parable shows us another important tidbit. When the son was returning the father ran to him. During those days it’s said this was considered undignified in Jewish culture. The patriarch never ran or made the first move in a situation like this.
The act of the father running toward the son shows the heart of God, he seeks us out. He initiated a move toward us while we were still far away from him. His pursuit of us is relentless and effectual. He seeks after us with great intensity because he loves us, and God never gives up on those he pursues. Maybe he’s pursuing you now.
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