Luke 15:20-24 The Parable of the Prodigal Son"
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. 21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
In Chapter 15, Jesus moves from teaching the Pharisees about the inclusive nature of God's love, to addressing the tax collectors and sinners. These men were seen as outside the religious circles and not worthy to come into Jesus' presence. And yet, these are the very people Jesus is reaching out to in Chapter 15. He tells the parable of the lost sheep and lost coin, where an all out search is made for what is lost. In fact, the owner of the sheep leaves the 99, in order to find the one who is lost.
Then, in the final parable, he tells of a son who squandered his inheritance on loose living. When he finds himself dining in the ditches with the pigs, he comes to his senses and heads toward home. His father, who represents God, is scanning the horizon waiting for the son to come home. When the father sees the lost son, he runs to meet him. What a great scene! Since the father is representative of God, we could say it was story of when "God ran".
This parable is only told in the gospel of Luke. It fits with Luke's purpose to ahow how Jesus reached out to the poor and marginalized. Coming off Jesus' rebuke of the Pharisees, he shows God'a love for all people. At the end of the story, the older brother was upset that the father threw a big feast when the younger son returned home. But the father tells the older brother, everything I have is yours too, but we have to celebrate because my son who is lost, is found.
A good question to ask is who are the lost sheep and the prodigal sons in our world. Who have we written off as too far gone for God to reach? If the church is to reflect God's heart for prodigals, how do we make an all out search for those who have squandered their inheritance? Maybe it is a Christian who has left the fold, and no one has reached out to them? A final question. Who are those prodigals in your life? Who have you written off? When they come to their senses would you welcome them home?