Luke 15 contains the parable of the prodigal (or “reckless”) son. In this parable a young son prematurely demands his inheritance from his father and squanders it away on various pleasures. He humbly returns to his father who, surprisingly, forgives him and kills the fatted calf in celebration. Meanwhile, the man’s older son finds out his younger brother has returned and becomes jealous of his lavish welcome. He confronts his father, claiming he has served him his whole life without receiving recognition. The father responds by telling his son it is fitting they celebrate his brother’s return since he was lost and has now been found.
We often examine this parable from the perspective of the younger son, but consider the older brother. He sought to acquire love by his compensatory earning, and he was lost to his father’s love because of his pride in his own moral record. This is convicting for us. In our zeal to do the right thing and earn God’s favor, we can fall far from His grace. As Tim Keller said, “You can rebel against God by either by breaking His rules or keeping all of them diligently.” Some of us have taken this even further and have driven people out of the church by imposing preferences that are outside God’s Word.
Now consider the father. He woos and welcomes both sons who are obnoxious. He had an excessive, extravagant, even prodigal love for both. Just as this earthly father felt compassion, our Heavenly Father also calls us participate in celebration of His unfitting love (whether we be lost legalists or far-country sinners). So what is this scandalous love? Freely giving His own son who emptied Himself and bore the cross for us. This Heavenly Father did better than kill the fatted calf; He slew His own son.
Both the disease of the older and younger brother can be damning. Ask yourself what condition you are in. Rather than rely on hypocrisy, legalism, and self-righteousness, may you bask in the Father’s love as He welcomes us like a tender child and beckons us to come home.
The bitter son was farther from home on the porch than his younger brother was in the pig pen. #TheLostSon
You can be geographically in the Father’s house but mentally in the far country. #TheLostSon
Jesus left the pillars of glory and donned the rags of humanity for us. #TheLostSon