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  • Writer's pictureDavid Bent

The Prodigal Father (21-10-20)

Bible Reading: Luke 15:11-12, 20-24

Jesus continued: "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.

So he got up and went to his father. "But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. "The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' "But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate.

A Reflection

As we have reflected on this teaching of Jesus, we have seen that, in different ways, both sons were lost to their father, and that the parable could be called the parable of the lost sons, rather than it’s more familiar title of the parable of the prodigal son.

But what does the word ‘prodigal’ actually mean? The dictionary gives this definition, ‘spending money or using resources freely and recklessly; wastefully extravagant., Clearly this could accurately be attributed to the younger son in Jesus’ story. But there is a second, related definition, ‘having or giving something on a lavish scale’ This has a similar outcome to the first, but comes more from the context of generosity, than from a sense of squandering.

Could this sense of generously giving everything away be applied to the father in the story, as he divided his property between his two sons? This was, after all, property that they would expect to receive only after he died, not while he was still alive. If that is the case, could we re-name the story again as the ‘parable of the prodigal father’?

Having lavishly given away his property, this prodigal father never gave up on his younger son, watching for him with the hope of seeing him returning along the road and, when he did, losing all his dignity by running out to throw his arms around this renegade and restoring him into the family. I doubt he ever gave up on having a restored relationship with his older son while he waited for him to see the difference between sonship and servanthood.

We have a Father God who lavishly gives to us, his children. Indeed, in giving his son Jesus to die for us, he gave the very best he had in order to restore our relationship with him, a relationship that was broken when we became lost, either in the foreign country of our own sinfulness or in the mindset of a slave rather than a son.

A Prayer

Father God, thank you that I need never be lost to you.

Help me to live in the assurance of your unconditional love and in the blessings that are mine as a son or daughter of the living God.


How deep the father’s love for us

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