THE PRODIGAL SON: AT THE END OF HIS ROPE HE FINDS HOPE

          THE FIFTEENTH CHAPTER OF LUKE CONTAINS STORIES JESUS TOLD ABOUT (1)A LOST SHEEP (2) A LOST COIN AND (3) A LOST SON.  IN EACH CASE, THE “OWNER” WAS NOT CONTENT UNTIL WHAT HAD BEEN LOST WAS FOUND AND BACK IN ITS RIGHTFUL PLACE.  IN MY STUDY, I’M CONSIDERING THE ‘LOST SON,’ AND TRYING TO FIGURE HOW HE “FELL,” AND WHAT FIGURED IN HIS “COMEBACK.”

          I’m not on a mission to be a “party pooper” here.  Jesus has a sense of humour, and I’m sure He was never against anything unless it was against us.  In relating the story He also pays attention to the gravity of it.  It does not all seem to be ‘fun and games’ after his rejection of his father’s influence.    All of us are free to make choices.  But none of us is free to choose consequences.  And bad choices always carry the certainty of bad consequences.  Fortunately, the young man in the story came to his senses before he reached some final fatal destination where sin always ultimately will lead (Romans 6:23) if left unchecked.

          When he finally realized he’d made a mistake, (Luke 15:17-18) he decided to try to correct it.  He must have realized how wrong he was, and first thing he did was compose a speech.  It was full of humble pie.  He must not have been too certain about how his father was going to react, so he put it on pretty thick.  “Maybe he’ll let me sleep in the barn.  But anything is better than this.  I’ve made a magnificent mess of my life, and I don’t have a right to expect his respect after what I’ve done.”  He beat himself up real bad, but he also got up right away and started home.  The only way he could.  Walking.  Hitch-hiking. He didn’t have money for a bus ticket and there was no Western Union to wire “comeback money” to him.  I also imagine him rehearsing his speech as he stumbled along.  More tired by the day.  Hardly resting, striking out early and walking all day.  Begging for scraps of food, getting by as best he could.

           But HE WAS GOING HOME.  It was a long, arduous journey, but he had reached a turning point and was headed home.

          If you’d like an explanation of why I feel the “waiting Father” is the hero of this story, consider Luke 15:20.  The fact that the Father saw him coming sort of suggested to me that he must have been looking for his son.  Probably every morning at dawn or every evening at dusk he’d scan the horizon for any evidence and he always kept hope alive.  And, even though his son had been gone for years (we aren’t told how many), and was probably stumbling, exhausted from the journey largely on foot from the “far country,” something about his familiar gait caught the dad’s attention.  And he knew!  He knew immediately.  It was his son.  He couldn’t wait for the son to get to the front porch.  He ran out to meet him.

          Now, we mustn’t forget that Jesus is drawing comparisons, between the rebellious, willful young son who’s so like some of us. . . and the loving, gracious, patient father who is so much like our Heavenly Father. The comparisons and implications are obvious. 

          Do you remember the speech the son had prepared in the pig pen, and rehearsed as he made his way home?  He began the speech, but never managed to get past the first line.  His Dad hushed him and probably tearfully and joyously hollered out loud back home:  “Go get the calf we’ve been fattened and saving for a special occasion! This is that special occasion!  Let’s celebrate!  My son, who was lost, is back home!  Let’s have a party!!  

          Ever think you’d like to make your Heavenly Father really happy?  If you’ve been too long gone, just come home.   Quit running and rebelling.  Come back where you belong.  That never fails to bring joy to His heart!

                                 God’s servant, your brother, friend, and fellow student        

A PARTING NOTE:  On my way for another doctor’s appointment in Wilmington this week, I saw a sign in front of an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Church saying:  “PRAY FOR PRESIDENT-ELECT O’BAMA.”   THAT IS A GOOD SIGN.  NO MATTER HOW YOU VOTED, I BELIEVE THAT IS NOW OUR MORAL OBLIGATION.

In addition, I think you’d like to take a look at some work done by Robert Sutherland.  His is one of the latest responses to our site, and if you click on the icon it will take you to his site.  Robert is a distinguished attorney who has made a very unique study of the book of Job.  It’s much more in depth than my effort, and offers an entirely different approach to Bible study.  Robert is also a Christian who’s uniquely qualified to provide more insight into our study of Scripture.

 

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