But when he was still a far way off, his father saw him and had compassion
and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him..” (Luke 15:20)

The parables of Jesus were profound in that while most of them could be easily understood by the masses they also posed radical challenges to the religious teachers of his day, in particular the Scribes and the Pharisees. They are like the delicate hands of the heart surgeon cutting to expose our sickness, but at the same time, bringing life in revealing to us who God truly is. If we approach the parables as some religious Aesop’s fable, then what we get would be earthly stories with some superficial heavenly meanings. But if we go deeper, we will strike mother loads of truth that may forever change our views of God and the way we live! 

Luke 15 tells the moving story of the two sons and their father. Naming it the prodigal son doesn’t even begin to do justice to it. Its not about one son; its about two very different brothers; the younger one who is a squanderer and a philanderer and the older one who is a sullen preserver of the family wealth. Both, as it turns out, are equally far away from their father’s heart. One wastes without caring a toss about the agony he brings to his father. The other slaves for himself and the family and expects this to win him the right to tell the father what to do. Both are caught up with self. 

The tragedy is that while the younger brother eventually realizes he is lost, the older brother never does. While the younger brother is embraced by the grace of the father who welcomes him and kills the fattened calf for him, the parable leaves us at the point where the father is pleading with the angry older brother to join the celebration, bitter that his years of “obedience” had not been appreciated or rewarded. Who is closer to the father’s heart? The “bad” younger or the “good” older brother? Both are equally distant. In both cases it is the father who initiates the moves to restore them at great cost to his standing, his wealth and his heart. Ultimately the parable is not about the sons but the true Prodigal Father who lavishes His love on us and seeks us out in our darkness. 

Dr Philip Lyn

Young AdultsComment