The Prodigal Son - Luke 15:11-32
I love the story of the prodigal son. I grew up loving it – it was a favorite. Part of the reason was because of the Keith Green song about the same story called “The Prodigal Son Suite.” I used to sit in the living room crossed legged on the carpet in front of my dads huge stereo speaker. As the song burst from the speakers I would pretend to play the piano on the carpet. I played so long and so rigorously that my mom would actually move the speaker due to the carpet being worn out.
It’s a beautiful song about a beautiful story - a story of the goodness of Gods love. The amazing unmerited mercy and grace of a good Father.
You know it. There was a father with two sons. The younger came to dad and asked for his inheritance. Dad gave it to him and he went out into the world and spent it in every self-centered way conceivable. Eventually he ran out of cash. Then the country went into recession (famine) and the only job he could find was feeding pigs. He hit bottom when he realized that the pigs ate better than he did.
So he decides to go home, beg forgiveness and ask his father for a place among the servants.
Here is how Keith puts it.
“…I was near home, in site of the house,
My father just stared, dropped open his mouth,
He ran up the road, and fell to my feet, and cried, and cried,
Father I've sinned, Heaven ashamed,
I'm no longer worthy to wear your name,
I've learned that my home is right where you are,
Oh father, take me in.”
“Bring the best robe, put it on my son,
Shoes for his feet, hurry put them on,
This is my son who I thought had died,
Prepare a feast for my son's alive…”
I can hear this song in my head even while I write. I am transported back in front of the speaker in our living room, the piano, strings and the horns a back drop for Keith’s voice as He sings from the fathers perspective.
“My son was lost, oh thank you God he's found, My son was dead and he's now alive, Prepare a feast for my son's alive…”
It’s a sweeping masterpiece - both the story and Keith’s rendition.
I think everyone loves this story. It’s so beautiful and it seems right that it end with the celebration feast - Everyone joyful that the son has returned. There’s singing, dancing, laughing and eating late into the night as mercy and grace pass through the room like good wine…
But the story doesn’t end there.
There’s an epilogue where we don’t want one. It’s kinda distracting and honestly its kinda sad and disappointing. Its not the happily ever after we want at the end of a beautiful story. It’s a sour note – one that never made it into Keith’s song and rightfully so.
This is a story about a father with two sons…
“Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. “Your brother has come,' he replied, 'and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.'
"The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, 'Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!'
'My son,' the father said, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. (Luke 15:25-31)
Big brother comes in after a hard day of working out in the field. He has been sweating and toiling, he has been “slaving.” Was he envious of little brother? Yep. But what’s interesting is that his father doesn’t address the envy, he speaks to the heart of the matter.
He says, “…you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.”
I feel like often in my life, I have worked and toiled – I have sweated out my faith. I have done the right stuff; I’ve been good and “godly.” I’ve even done a little slaving – all for Jesus of course… I don’t think I’m alone in this.
I think many Christians have been trying to earn a place in our father’s house. Here is the amazing thing; we can’t earn what is already given. You can’t earn being an heir. You can’t earn your way into son ship our daughter ship. You’re born into that. You get it. It’s given. If you have asked Jesus to be your Lord and Savior, then you have been re-born into an inheritance that is eternal.
I ache for the big brother who has the spirit of religion on him. He is living from a place of religion – set of beliefs – and not relationship. If you live outside the context of relationship, you are unable to celebrate when a relationship is restored.
Because of his limited understanding, big brothers world is very small. Because he doesn't live from the revelation that everything Dad has is his, His potential is only as big as his own personal abilities. He only has access to his own strength, his own knowledge - whatever he can accomplish by the sweat of his brow.
And so, he does all the right things for the wrong reasons. And even though that might seem alright - cause “hey, the right stuff is getting done” - the problem is not only is the older son missing out on the joy of life, eventually he finds himself offended and at odds with his dad.
Here’s the thing, if I don’t embrace and live from the revelation that “Everything my Heavenly Father has is mine,” then some day something will happen that I cant understand and I will find myself hurt, angry and at odds with dad.
I have met many Christians who have been hurt by the goodness of God because they have been living and doing all the right stuff from the wrong revelation. If we don’t understand that “Everything he has is ours,” we not only miss out on the celebration, we find ourselves resenting our heavenly Father. We find ourselves at odds with the very nature that is his Love. Suddenly our misunderstanding trumps our Fathers love. Our lack of revelation determines how we live and how we love.
But when life is lived from our fathers perspective, the joy we experience from the return of a prodigal is not something that has to be mustered up, it is simply an overflow of our fathers heart.
Jesus died and rose so we would never again have to slave. When we see our inheritance for what it is, the very power of Love, we no longer need worry or fret. We need never slave again.
“For the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt 10:7). It’s right here, at hand, within reach. You see, we are heirs to the King. Everything he has is ours and its ours right now. Not when we die or after we have earned it but right now. Not because of what we have done but because of what Jesus did. And because we are now heirs, every aspect of our father is available to us.
Everything he has is ours! Do you need mercy? It’s yours! Do you need friendship? It’s yours! Need hope, He is Hope! Need provision, joy, love, a Sabbath, a miracle, everything he has is ours! How awesome is that!