July 23, 2015
There is no doubt that the sermon I have heard preached the most is on the prodigal son. I guess I’ve heard it preached from every angle possible. Today, during my quiet time with God, the Lord was blessing me with some thoughts from this familiar portion of Scripture. God’s Word continues to draw us closer to Him. What a blessing to have not only salvation, and the presence of God in our lives, but the ongoing ministry of His Word to teach us more about our sweet Savior.
There are so many lessons to be learned from this passage, but a few stand out for me today. In the beginning of the story in Luke chapter 15, we see the discontented son going to his father. I rather imagine he had been thinking about this for a while. He knew he would one day receive an inheritance, but no time soon. He wanted to strike out on his own. He did not want to continue to be under the authority and beliefs of his father. His father had provided well for him; he had taught him how to live a godly life. The son was impatient and wanted adventure instead of the trusted and tried life of surrender to God’s way. So, he asked his dad for his inheritance now.
We know how the story plays out, but let’s think on the father’s action at this point. He had two choices: give him the money now, or make him wait until he would normally receive it. The Bible, of course, does not give us the father’s thoughts, but a mature Christian parent can guess what was going through his mind. He knew that this son was not mature enough to be able to handle wisely a large amount of money. A young person, due to a lack of experience, can very quickly go through an inheritance. And, he would miss him!
We had a teenager in one of our churches who received through a life insurance policy, thousands of dollars. He immediately began to foolishly spend it on cars and other big ticket items. Needless to say, the money disappeared fast. He ended up in jail for armed robbery. Looking back, that money was definitely not a blessing.
As the prodigal’s father handed him the money, he had to be grieved. He knew what lie ahead for his son – some very difficult lessons. And yet, he gave it to him anyway. Why? How could he do that to his son? I believe his son was going to find trouble with or without the money. His heart was already headed out the door of the “still waters” of home. He wanted out! And the father allowed it.
The prodigal lived “high on the hog” for a while. The Scripture does not tell us how long. Money has wings and flies away quickly. At first the son was sure he had made the best decision of his life, but he started at the top and slid down the slippery slope that led to the hog pen! It was there that he finally “came to himself.” He snapped out of it. “What am I doing here?”
Meanwhile, back at the house, you can imagine the heartache of the father. Every day, not knowing if his son was safe, or hungry, or even worse; he prayed and waited and watched. Anything could have happened to his dear son, his precious, spirited son whom he loved with all his heart and soul. Every day, many times a day, praying for him to return home and back to God.
Luke 15:20, to me, is the most precious part of this story. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. Perhaps his father had a favorite spot he went to each day to watch for his son. Perhaps he went to a different place every day to watch for him in case he came a different way. But this we know, he was watching. AND HE RAN to meet him and was thrilled to have him back, no questions asked, only celebration. What a beautiful illustration of our heavenly Father. He is waiting, and watching for the day when He can celebrate with the one who was lost and now is found.
The father in this story could not, would not force his son to follow in his footsteps. He tenderly allowed his son to come to the truth through the reality of life’s hard knocks. From the beginning of time, God has given man a choice. We have to but look at the cross to see a picture of our choices. Jesus died on the cross; on the one side the thief foolishly rejected the saving work of grace being done in his presence. The other thief, though he had wasted his life in “riotous living,” came to the Savior who was dying for his sins right then. The Lord gave them the choice, and they chose.
“The Savior is waiting to enter your heart. Why don’t you let Him come in? There’s nothing in this world to keep you apart. What is your answer to Him? If you’ll take one step toward the Savior my friend, you’ll find His arms open wide. There’s nothing in this world to keep you apart. Deep in your heart He’ll abide.” “Time after time, He has waited before, and now He is waiting again, to see if you’re willing to open the door. O HOW HE WANTS TO COME IN.” (Ralph Carmichael)