I decided I would share with you a three part devotional series based on a sermon I preached about The Prodigal Son last month. I will post these in succession Monday, Wednesday, and Friday this week. Here we go.
The Separation | Luke 15:11-13
11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living.
Picture this if you will with me. You are a parent of good health with two children. One day your child comes to you and says , “Dad, I’m tired of waiting for you to die to get your money. Give me what you owe me so I can get out of here.” Imagine the pain, anger, and shame you would feel upon receiving this request. Multiply that by 100, and you’re somewhere in the park of how this would have been received in ancient Israel. This request was unheard of, disrespectful, and wrong. You are more likely to be disciplined then enriched. But, already we get a glimpse of this loving father who, rather than disciplining, fulfills the request of his impatient son. Not long after, the son leaves.
The Heart Stirring | Luke 15:14-17
14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything. 17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger!
Things went bad in a big way for this man’s son. The shame, anguish, and pain his father once felt was on him tenfold. No Jew would have had anything to do with swine if he could possibly help it, as they were considered unclean. But the prodigal was reduced to such desperate straits that he found it necessary to tend pigs, and he longed for their slop.
I believe this separation and suffering grieves the heart of God and begins an active, focused search for him, just as was done in the two previous parables.
4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?
Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins[a] and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?
We see in these parables an intentionality in the God character in seeking out their lost objects of desire. It’s reasonable to believe the same can be said for His son made in His image.
Something beautiful has happened here to this man. This man has been stripped of everything he has and left with nothing. Why is that beautiful? When you are stripped of all entitlement, pretense, and pride, it’s a lot easier to take an objective look at your life and make some changes.
Have you ever messed up? I mean messed up bad, caught red handed, no way to talk yourself out of it bad? If you have, you know that these moments seem specifically tailored to bring about restoration when light is shown in the dark places and truth, humility, and repentance take center stage.
I’ve been married now four years to my amazing wife Bethany. Being married four years has taught me one thing: I’m an jerk. Marriage has a funny way of shining a light on those hidden spaces. It begins to reveal you for who you really are, warts and all. Sometimes I don’t like what I find. What I do like is the outworking of love I see through my beautiful bride as we work through issues as they arise, as they tend to do in marriage. What I’ve noticed is when we strip away all our “I’m right” attitudes and express our hearts, apologize, talk, cry, and forgive, the closeness that comes is amazing, freeing even. The rub is that without the talking and tears, restoration may never come. It is these moments, when all hope seems lost, that a decision needs to be made, one that could change the entire outcome of the story.
The most painful thing about being a Christian is dealing with those people in your life who are not saved. Francis Thompson, a poet and doctor from the 1890’s, details the pursuit by God in his life in his poem, “The Hound of Heaven.” Thompson, a cocaine addict, failed doctor, broken human and Christian, recounts a life on the run from God and God never abandoning the chase even as Francis seeks shelter in the shallow and the empty.
Thompson, in many ways, is similar to the people we love: people we want to know our loving Savior. Each parable in Luke 15 increases in value. The lost sheep is a small portion of the shepherd’s livelihood, yet still he goes out to find him. The lost coin is equivalent to a week’s work, and the woman looks ferociously for it. Finally, the prodigal son, made in God’s image like us. How much more important are we to God than than coins or sheep?
29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
We must never lose hope that those we love will eventually come home and meet with Jesus. The Hound of Heaven is on their trail. Continue to be faithful, show love, pray, and leave them in God’s capable hands.