I am convinced that the Parable of
the Prodigal Son is really a picture
of how God deals with all of mankind, and we are wise if we realize
that this is the case. Otherwise we miss an overview of God's
plans and purposes, and fail to understand what is happening in our
lives and why.
15:11-24 And He [Jesus]
said, A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his
father, "Father, give me the portion of goods that is coming to me".
And he divided his living to them. And not many days afterward, the
younger son gathered all together and went away into a far country. And
there he wasted his property, with reckless living. And when he had
spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land. And he began to be
in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country.
And he sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to
fill his belly with the husks that the pigs ate, and no one gave to
him. And when he came to himself, he said, "How many hired servants of
my father abound in loaves, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and
go to my father, and will say to him, 'Father, I have sinned against
Heaven and before you and am no more worthy to be called your son. Make
me like one of your hired servants'". And he arose and came to his
father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and
had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And
the son said to him, "Father, I have sinned against Heaven and before
you, and am no more worthy to be called your son." But the father said
to his servants, "Bring the best robe and put it on him. And put a ring
on his hand and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf here and
kill it. And let us eat and be merry, for this my son was dead and is
alive again, he was lost and is found." And they began to be merry.
We see in this parable that the
father gives his son the inheritance
even though the father is still alive! And the father allows his
son to go astray from him with the inheritance. I suspect that
the father knew that his son would waste the inheritance.
Otherwise he probably would not have been watching and waiting for the
son to return.
We also see that this adversity that
the son encounters brings him to a
crisis, and in the crisis the son comes to his senses, realizing that
life as father's servant would be preferable to continuing to ruling
his own life. The son properly blames no one but himself for his
So the son returns to his father,
confesses his sins, and hopes to be
treated as a servant. The father, on the other hand, recognizing
the son's brokenness and contrition, sees that the pride of life which
led his son away from him is gone, so that the father can now trust the
son to do the father's will rather than the son's will.
In the same way, God, as Father of
Creation, created us in His image,
and then lets us go, knowing that all of us are going to go astray from
Him after our own ways. He knows that we have to get this out of
our system, experiencing the failure of trying to rule our own lives,
and coming to the realization that life with Father in Father's
household is better than being a king or queen over our own disaster.
Even King David, the man 'after God's
own heart', discovered this
truth. In spite of David's various successes of serving God in
his younger years, David goes astray from God after a married woman
named Bathsheba, commits adultery with her, has a child by her, tries
to cover up his sin by lying and murder, and thinks that he got away
with his transgressions. But then God sends His prophet Nathan to
David and convicts David out of David's own mouth!
David is faced with two
choices. He can be like Cain, and
continue to blame everyone else for his sins, and whine that God's
punishment is too severe. Or he can humble himself before God,
confess his sins in brokenness and contrition, and seek God's mercy and
grace in meekness and lowliness of heart. David chooses the latter, and
finds a life which is better than before even though he continues to
suffer from the damage he did to his family and country.
I can identify with the Prodigal
Son. I thought that I was a
pretty good person until I discovered that I was not a good husband and
father. The circumstances of life brought to the surface the
selfishness and pride which I had been unaware of. But God in His
mercy sent various people my way to invite me to be reconciled with Him
in a way that I had been completely unaware of in spite of the fact
that I had spent a lot of time in both protestant and Roman Catholic
churches. It was not until I experienced a day of emotional
paralysis that I realized that God could not do any worse than me in
managing my life! So I called one of my new Christian friends to
ask what I should do next, and she told me something that I had never
heard before, and never heard since. She said, "I know that you
have been raised in church to confess your sins when you commit sins,
and to seek forgiveness from God so that you can go on with your
life. I am here to tell you that your whole
life is one big sin
because you have lived for yourself rather than living for God."
I was shocked, but then realized that that explained why my life was so
dysfunctional! So I asked what I should do next, and she said,
"Get down on your knees for you will be talking to the King of Kings and the
Lord of Lords."
I was duly impressed and got down on my knees. When my knees
touched the floor twenty-six years worth of tears were released.
I cried like a baby. But when I got up from my knees I felt like
I was brand new!
A year later as I read the Old
Testament for the first time, I came to
God's description of His Old Covenant with Israel, and His New New
Behold, the days
come, says the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of
Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the [old]
covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by
the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which My covenant they
broke, although I was an husband unto them, says the LORD: But this
shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After
those days, says the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and
write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be My
people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every
man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know Me,
from the least of them unto the greatest of them, says the LORD: for I
will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
No more trying to fulfill outward
rules and regulations, but having God
write His law of love in our hearts! A great deal!
But alas, the church has frequently
reverted back to rules and
regulations rather than seeking God to rewrite the laws in our hearts,
removing the laws of selfishness and pride and waywardness, and writing
new laws of humility and selflessness and obedience by the power of the
death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Now, though, I believe that God is
intent on restoring the simplicity
and reality of His New Covenant to His people to bring an end to our
carnality so that we can become one in spirit with Him by abiding in
Jesus, The True Vine, and letting His life be fully manifested in us.
So, brokenness and contrition become
the gateways to a new and
wonderful relationship with God as our Father, Jesus Christ as our
Lord, and the Holy Spirit of God as our Helper.
But don't make the mistake of just
being as broken and contrite as you
can be by yourself. Ask Jesus to take your brokenness and to
grind you to dust, burn off the impurities of your old life, water you
with His Spirit, and mold you into the child of God that God wants you