Lost in the Silence


“Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them! So...to illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: ‘A man had two sons. The younger son told his father, “I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons. A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything. When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, “At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! I will go home to my father and say, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.’” So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.” But his father said to the servants, “Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.” So the party began. Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, and he asked one of the servants what was going on. “Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.” The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, but he replied, “All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!” His father said to him, “Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!”’” - Luke 15:1-3,11b-32

This story of the prodigal son is one of the most famous and familiar of Jesus’ parables. And the most personal. For it touches an area that is often the most painful—our children.

In the parables of the lost sheep (Lk. 15:3-7) and lost coin (Lk. 15:8-10), the emphasis is on the lost-ness and the relentless efforts of the owners to recover what was lost (vv. 4,8).

The sheep was lost due to its natural propensity or weakness to stray; the coin through carelessness. But the son was lost because of his own willful sinfulness (vv.11-13).

Instead of a seeking shepherd and a searching woman, we have a waiting father. The aggrieved father did not relentlessly pursue his wayward son. Instead, he patiently waited for the son to return. Undoubtedly, the father had prayed for his son to come “to his senses” (v.17).

He was also patient with the older son. The older son's conduct, however—refusing to join the party for his younger brother was a slap in the face. Hospitality in the Middle East is of great importance, both offering it and receiving it. One did not refuse a party, especially in one’s own home, especially of one’s own family.

As John Ortberg once said, “One of the hardest things in the world is to stop being the prodigal son without turning into the elder brother.” Both brothers had sinned against the father. And, both were in need of repentance and salvation by God the Father, the One full of compassion, patience, grace and love.

Like the loving father in the story of the prodigal son, our heavenly Father is also watching and waiting for someone who has turned away to come back home. Contrary to the desires of the religious establishment of Jesus’ day, and in many places even today, we see from our story that God doesn't want to punish; he wants to save.

While there are people who put up a wall even after saying they forgive you, Jesus is not that way. When Jesus forgives, he also forgets the wrong we've done, because he died to pay for that wrong! If you or a loved one needs to come home today, don’t hesitate and don’t be afraid. The arms of a loving Father await you!

Lord, in the quiet and in my prayer, help me to be honest with You; repentant before You; and always serving You. I thank You for helping me to be a reflection of who You are! Help me to be compassion-ate, humble, and filled with grace. God, help me to celebrate what You do. Thank You for helping me love You and Your children, today and every day. Amen.
Mar 31 2019