Bible Reading: Luke 15:11-20
Jesus said: "There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, 'Father, give me my share of the estate.' So he divided his property between them. "Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. "When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.' So he got up and went to his father.
This story, told by Jesus and known as the parable of the prodigal son, must be one of the most well-known parables in the bible. Luke includes it in his gospel after the parable of the lost sheep and the lost coin, so it is sometimes known as the parable of the lost son. The story revolves around three main characters, the father and his two sons, and we will look at each of these over the next few days.
The image is of the younger son leaving the security of his father’s home with his share of his inheritance and setting off for a foreign country where he recklessly squanders all he has before returning home. As a parable, it can be applied in many different ways and has many different applications.
As you reflect on the story, can you see yourself as the lost son? Are there times in your life where you have wandered away from what you know is right and ended up lost, in a place that seems foreign and alien? Are there times when you have squandered what had been precious for a dream that came to nothing? There is a way back; the younger son saw it and was prepared to admit his mistake, turn around and return to his father.
Maybe there are people you know who have wandered away from those who love them, or from their faith in God, and who now appear to be lost in a foreign land. Can you pray that they will come to their senses and turn back? Can you maybe help them to find their way home, and back into the arms of our loving God?
Perhaps more radically, can you see Jesus as the Son who left his Father’s loving home and set off for a foreign land? Can you see him squandering all he had, not self-indulgently, but recklessly amongst the poor and the outcast? Can you see him ultimately losing his very life, before returning home to his Father, having made it possible for you and me to return with him and find our eternal home with him and with his Father?
Father of all, we give you thanks and praise,
that when we were still far off
you met us in your Son and brought us home.
Dying and living, he declared your love,
gave us grace and opened the gate of glory.
I will sing the wondrous story