Most parents know the feeling of forgiveness when dealing with adult children and their obvious mistakes. So many times their defiance may change after wrestling with common sense to regret and show repentance. Without any money and no good excuses, there can be little hope for a productive life with or without family and friends.
This son in Luke 15 was going home completely broke; not demanding anything else, but willing to take whatever he could have gotten from his father! The verb “give” had been replaced with “help.” It probably never crossed the son’s mind how his father had missed and needed him at home. With extended imagination, we can see the father pausing between chores to watch for his son. With unlimited thoughts we can see the father speaking out aloud during sleepless nights.
Today parents, grandparents and others have been hurt by thoughtless family members. We wonder if there will ever be an end to such foolish behavior! We can continue praying to God for strength and guidance daily when such problems confront us.
As Jesus told this parable, we clearly see this younger son so shortly thereafter gathering all of his belongings and preparing to settle far away. What happened next? Of course he squandered his wealth in wild living. Unexpected bad news followed this careless son.
1. He was broke.
2. A severe famine occurred.
3. He became needy.
He accepted a pig-feeding job! At this point any job was good enough. He somehow longed to eat the pigs’ food, but no one gave him anything. Common sense reached him as he was starving and thinking about his father’s hired servants who had food to spare!
This parable of the prodigal son can be compared to our responses to all people. We learn in chapter 15 that family support and love can have unlimited meanings to us. The words of Jesus persistently offended the self-righteous religious contemporaries who probably felt quite uncomfortable. Perhaps a problem may have been the sinful people’s response! The religious leaders in the gospels claimed to have known God and were offended by the kind of people Jesus attracted. Do we sometimes share this attitude? Have we ever felt misplaced? This chapter tells us so much about the spiritually lost and a loving father. With those last thoughts he set out to return home. Even when he was a great distance away, his father saw him and had great compassion. The son ran and fell on his neck and kissed him while confessing his sins! He even felt unworthy to be called son. How did this father react? He ordered his servants to bring the best clothes, jewelry and sandals. Of course a fattened calf was slaughtered for the banquet. He felt that his younger son was dead and now is alive again!
Was the older brother affected by this grand affair? After working in the field, he returned home to hear music and dancing. He questioned a servant who explained the excitement and celebration. The older brother who was expressing some of our feelings when we think we are discredited we may refuse to join in the happiness because of some anger. The father pleaded to no avail. How could pleading cover the time and work given by the older son who had received nothing for his efforts? Did the father have a choice? We are not told if the older brother celebrated the return of the wayward brother. The lesson for him and for us is to accept all of God’s people whether they are worthy or unworthy. Our own need for God’s grace to keep us from scattering our resources from Him will prevent the despair of our acceptance in the “Father’s House.” All that we know about God can be seen in how we view ourselves as being lost and how we deal with others who are lost. God, family and friends rejoice when we are found. Knowing God is the answer to our life-long problems. Let us continue to pray to hear His voice saying “Come home.”!
Mrs. Gladys R. McElmore, a resident of Norfolk’s Middle Town Arch Community, is a New Journal and Guide Freelance Contributor on religion. She is a native of Essex County, Va.