Hi Friends! Here’s a reminder of where we are and where we’re going with the Lost Series from Luke 15: Lost Part 1: The story of the Lost Sheep. Lost Part 2: The story of the Lost Coin. Lost Part 3 Introduces the Return of the Lost Son.
Today’s post, Lost Part 4, picks up on the account of the Younger Son. We’ll finish the series with Lost Part 5, some challenging and perhaps surprising things about the Older Brother, and Lost Part 6, The Father. I’ll put the relevant section of scripture in each post. Click the links above to catch anything you missed! Here we go:
11 To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons. 12 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. 13 “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. 14 About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. 15 He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. 16 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. 17 “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! 18 I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, 19 and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.” ’ 20 “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. 21 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.’ 22 “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. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 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. (Luke 15:11-24 NLT)
Here’s Jesus’ Story: A man, a good man, had two sons. The younger son was selfish and irresponsible. He demanded that his father give him his share of the value of the estate immediately. This was like saying, “Father, I wish you were dead!” The father agreed to divide his wealth between his two sons. (Jesus didn’t tell us of the conflict between the brothers and the heartache this demand caused the father, but it was certainly there!) So the father cashed out enough of the value of the estate to give the younger son his inheritance. Two-thirds, the first-born’s double portion, went to the older brother, and one-third to the younger. In a few days, the younger brother took the cash and set off to see the world!
The foolish young man soon wasted it all! He partied till he dropped! The money ran out, and when it did, his “friends” ran out, and his luck ran out. A “famine swept over the land”, and he was helpless, hungry, and hopeless! He begged a local farmer for work and got sent to the field to feed pigs. He was so hungry that the pig feed started looking pretty good! He was alone (perhaps for the first time in his life) and no one gave him a hand! Here’s what happened then:
• He finally came to his senses. This was his awakening moment and the turning point for him. He began to see things more clearly:
o At home on my father’s estate, even the workers have food to spare. I’m starving here. What I had is so much better than what I have now.
o I will go home to my father. I’ll say, “Father, I was wrong! I sinned against you. I sinned against heaven. I’m not worthy to be called your son. I’m willing to be a hired hand if I can just be back home with you.”
• He started for home, ragged and dirty, faint with hunger. He intended to negotiate an undeserved place in the household and he worked on his speech of confession and repentance all the way home.
• His father saw him coming before he even reached the gate! I guess his father must have been watching the road every day his son was away. His father ran to him, full of love and compassion, threw his arms around his stinky, ragged son, and hugged and kissed him in a very Pre-COVID19 manner!
• When the boy finally got his prepared speech delivered, his father didn’t even hear it. He had plans of his own for this Lost Boy!
o He sent one group of servants off to get some clean clothes and shoes and a ring for his son!
o He sent another group of servants to prepare a feast and a great celebration, because here’s what really mattered to the Father… Listen to his words: “This son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.”
So the party began (Just like the party the shepherd threw when he found his lost sheep and the party the woman threw when she found her lost coin!)
You know, when I read this story, I usually focus on the irresponsibility and selfishness of the younger son. So many times I’ve identified with the younger son! So many times I didn’t do what I should do and I did do what I shouldn’t do. So many times I felt guilty and discouraged that I’d never become what God wants me to be.
I behaved pretty poorly at around age sixteen and seventeen. I disappointed my parents, caused them anxiety, and caused them embarrassment. I remember one time my Dad having to take me to school and get me reinstated after I was kicked out of school for my behavior. When I think about that day, I realize (now, not then) how embarrassing and humiliating it was for him. There were other things that I realize now hurt my folks a lot, but at the time I was so self-centered I didn’t have a clue!
I don’t know how long it took the Younger Son to come to his senses, but it took me about two years. I “came home” and things got to be pretty much all right between me and my Dad and Mom.
Here’s a couple of things about the Younger Son’s part of the story to be aware of and to keep in mind:
• He had to realize and acknowledge that his choices and actions were what put him in his current situation. He was not a victim.
• He had to think things through and come to a new way of thinking (repentance) and follow that through with a decision to return home. He had to get up and go home.
• To experience the joy of his Father’s house he had to let go of his plan to negotiate a basis for his acceptance. He had to release everything into his father’s hands. He had to receive undeserved mercy. He had to accept his acceptance.
It’s still “love and compassion” on the Father’s part that makes this work; for the Younger Son, for us, and for any Younger Sons and Daughters who need to be accepted and reconciled with any family we’re part of.
And that’s a good outcome, folks, for the Younger Son and for me, but it isn’t the point Jesus is making with this story at all!
Next week (and don’t miss this one!) the Older Brother!