This story told by Jesus, often known as the parable of the prodigal son, is the climax of a series of three stories which illustrate the problem of being far from God, and its solution. The lost sheep (Luke 15:1-7) was a foolish wanderer, incapable of finding a way home; the lost coin (Luke 15:8-10) was totally dependent on somebody turning on a light and searching for it. Despite the obsessive pity of the religious leaders of the day, none could save themselves from soul-darkness by their own good works (Ephesians 2:8-9). That is why Jesus came to search out those who did not know how to find peace in God’s company (Luke 19:10).
The parable starts with the ranting of an angry young man. Despite all that he had and should have enjoyed in his fathers’ estate, he did not want to be under his father’s authority. He wanted what his father could give, but did not want his father. He consciously chose to insult his father by demanding a share in the estate while his parent was still alive. The eldest could claim two thirds and younger children would divide the remaining one third of the father's assets. After that, the arrogant son deliberately abandoned the security of home and his father’s love.
The father in the parable represents Father God. He was not weak in giving in to the demand, but he did not demand unwilling submission. He did not refuse a legal request even though the son insulted him by giving the message that he never wanted anything to do with his father again. The son exploited his right to have the money but had no desire for any sort of honourable relationship with his father. He wished his father was dead.
That is exactly how many people treat God today. They want to experience His blessing and goodness, but have no intention of serving Him in love. They want to be separate from Him to fulfil their own ambition, which is really rebellion against the Lord of all. They also want to take His property - the whole world belongs to God (Psalm 24:1) – to use it selfishly (James 4:3). The result has been a terrible trail of environmental disasters and human exploitation: misery, injustice, war, poverty and epidemic disease which are just some of the legacies of demonically encouraged arrogance and greed (James 3:14-16). At a local level, families are torn apart, business confidence diminishes, and fear displaces joy. That is why we need a gospel of salvation which is free to all and a Saviour to rescue us, although it cost Jesus everything. If you know that gospel, share it. If you don't understand it, watch www.crosscheck.org.uk ... if you have welcomed Jesus then share it!
© Dr Paul Adams