The Parable of the Lost Son

God’s Attitude towards lost people

Read the story of the lost son in Luke 15:11-32.. The context of this story is found in Luke 15:1,2. “Then all the tax
collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him. And the Pharisees
and scribes complained, saying, ‘This Man receives sinners and eats
with them.
‘ ” . In response to this criticism, Jesus tells three stories
which all reveal something of God’s great love for lost people,
and His great joy when they return to Him. Jesus wanted the
Pharisees to understand that God loves sinners and they should despise
and reject those who want are considering turning back to God.

The story of the lost son is the last of these three stories. It is
quite well known. I recommend you read it yourself here.
I will summarise the story.

A father had two sons. One day the younger son comes to the father and
asks for his share of the father’s inheritance. The father divides the
inheritance between the sons. Then the younger son goes off and wastes
his money on wild living. After he had spent everything, a severe famine
came to the land and the son ends up feeding pigs – a despised and lowly
occupation especially for a Jew. The son comes to his senses and realises
he would be better off with his father again – even if only as a servant.
So he goes back. While he is still a ways off, the father sees him, runs
to him and kisses him. The son can’t even finish his confession of guilt
and unworthiness, because the father is so delighted that his son has returned.
So he honors his son, restores him and throws a big party for him to celebrate
his return.

When the older son hears about this, he is really angry. He feels the
father is being unjust with him. After all, he never left home, he worked
hard, and he never was given even a goat to enjoy himself with his friends.The
father urges him to join the celebration, explaining that the younger son
was lost and now is found, was dead, but now is alive.

The Meaning of the Parable

We need to understand that when the younger son was asking for his inheritance,
he was really wishing for his father’s death and expressing impatience.
It was like, “Hurry up and die. Get out of my way! I can’t wait to really
live life.” This was a terrible insult towards his father, who after all
had taken care of him and given him life in the first place.

This reveals pretty much the common attitude towards God in many people
today. People want the blessings God provides, but they would rather there
was no God to tell them what to do. They don’t want to honor and obey God.
They want independence from God and his laws. Perhaps you have felt this
way. I know I have at times. This “me first” attitude is at the root of
what the Bible calls sin.

Anyone living independently of God’s Word and Presence is like the lost
son in this parable. Whether you live as a drug addict or as a high-powered
executive of a major corporation – without God, you are lost. Anyone who
in his heart rejects God’s Lordship is lost.

The Father in the story was obviously a well-to-do landowner who possessed
animals and servants. He was no fool. The younger son could obviously have
learned much from his father, but he despised all that, and left. He went
looking for short term fulfilment in casual sexual relationships, parties
and things like that – much like what many of the youth of America and
the western world generally are doing today. It is a fact that sex is never
free. Whoever you sleep with generally ends up getting your money. If you
waste your money and love on someone who doesn’t care about you, you will
end up either constantly craving more and enjoying less, or so hardened
that in the end nothing matters to you anymore. This is not the way to
enjoy the abundant life God wants you to enjoy.

What Can we See About the Father?

The Father could have just refused the son and put him in his place
with severe discipline. Instead, he allowed him to go. In the same way,
God allows us to go off and depart from Him, if that is what we want. He
doesn’t force us to stay. God is only interested in love that really comes
from the heart. This just isn’t possible unless we have a real choice and
God takes a real risk of experiencing our rejection of Him and His love.

The problem with leaving God is that we cut ourselves off from the source
of life. We may carry with us some of the blessings God gave us – talents,
money, abilities, relationships, knowledge and so on, but eventually even
these, cut off from the source, eventually dry up leaving us with nothing.
This is what happened to the son in the story.

Wastefulness

It wasn’t just that the son did sinful things. It was that he wasted
his possessions. When we depart from God we are wasting part of our life,
part of our potential. God has given every person lots of potential. What
we do with it matters a lot to God. This principle is revealed also in
the Parable of the Talents and the Parable of the Pounds, found in Matthew
25 and Luke 19 respectively.

To a Christian, God has already given everything pertaining to life
and godliness (2 Peter 1:4), every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3),
salvation (Romans 10:9,10), the Word of God, the Holy Spirit, and lots
more. Thousands of promises can be appropriated by the believing Christian.
O.K., what are we doing with them. When we go off and waste hours, days
and weeks in the kind of living not in line with that of a dedicated disciple
of Christ, we are the losers. This is one reason why I think we should
be wary of computer games, which can consume valuable hours every day and
draw our hearts away from the Lord, even if they are not overly sinful
in nature. God wants us to major on Jesus and being like Him, and not please
ourselves. Every one of us has to make that choice. But investing our lives
in the kingdom of God is very wise, since only God’s Kingdom remains in
the end.

As Christians, we can waste our lives doing things that are not ‘the
best’. For example, we can listen to Christian entertainment music for
hours instead of seriously getting into listening to preaching and teaching,
and getting out and moving in the power of the Holy Spirit. We can talk
and hang out with our friends about stuff that isn’t going to take us anywhere,
or we can press in and really touch God and our generation too! Does this
sound too heavy? Well, remember, you are free to do what you want to do,
but you have to give an account in the end. Do you want to be mediocre
for Christ or really make an impact in this sinful world? Its up to you
to choose.

Why Living for the World is a Bad Deal

Although the world promises much it delivers little. The fulfilment
that is supposed to be found at the top of your chosen field or business
just isn’t there for the few who attain it. The pleasures of the world,
while initially even thrilling, can leave you jaded, hardened and bored
after a while. Youth is not forever, and many people become emotionally
scarred by others in their quest for love and fulfilment. Riches can leave
you in a day.

Some of the richest men in history have confessed that they have been
unhappy. What good is money if you have no peace? It is reported that one
rich man, Paul Getty, I believe, was asked “How much money does it take
to make you happy?” and he answered “Just a little more”. A lost person
today can be likened to a horse drawing a cart. The rider of the cart –
satan in this case – holds out a carrot on a stick and a piece of string
in front of the horse. The horse pursues the carrot in vain, and wears
himself out for a satisfaction that never really comes.

Worse than all that, you will die, and you will most likely be
forgotten after 10 to 100 years. None of the resources you accumulate here
can be taken to what lies beyond death. Furthermore, living without God
leads to the ultimate personal disaster – eternal hell. Those who do not
belong to Jesus are claimed by Satan, whom the Bible describes as “the
prince of this world”. Immediately after death, demons drag the lost into
hell to be eternally tormented, mocked and burned. Jesus taught a lot about
hell because he doesn’t want YOU to end up there. Of course, you may decide
that Jesus is a liar – but then again, not so many liars have had the ability
to predict their own death and subsequent resurrection!

On the positive side, the Kingdom of God lasts forever. Investing your
life in God’s Kingdom will be seen to be a real winning investment, because
it remains, whereas the world and its lusts are passing away. The way things
are going the whole world order could be wrapped up in a few short decades
from today. We know that Christ has promised to return and make all things
new. The prophetic signs are all around us for those who take the time
to look into it.

Waking Up

The Bible says that the younger son “came to his senses”. Sin is stupid
and senseless. When he woke up to reality, he remembered the goodness of
his Father. He realised that even the father’s servants were better off
than he!

Its so important to realise that God is good. Religion has recognised
this formally, and then gone on to portray a God who predestines people
to hell, strikes others with cancer and can hardly wait to punish those
who step a little out of line. If you think the Bible teaches God is like
this, you have really been deceived. God is not like that. He is good and
does good. But he doesn’t come running after you when you leave Him and
His protection. You have the freedom to go to the devil if you wish.

The devil hates you and would love to destroy you, but as he is doing
it he would like to make you somehow blame God for all that is happening.
On the other hand, the Bible teaches us to give thanks, to trust God because
his lovingkindness endures forever.

The Father’s Love

The father in this story ran enthusiastically to greet his son when
he saw him returning. This is a picture of how God rejoices when he sees
us returning to Him. God is getting ready to celebrate and he wants to
bless us with good things.

It wasn’t dignified for an older man to run in the days of Jesus. Yet
this father ran. This reveals God’s great love for us also. The Father
brings out the best robe to put on his son, a ring on his hand and sandals
on his feet. This speaks of a restoration of authority, favor and the father-son
relationship. This is what God does for us when we return to Him!

A Message for You

Perhaps you have been away from God. You’ve been looking for fulfilment
outside the Kingdom of God. But the very fact that you are reading this
message is evidence that God is drawing you back to Himself. There will
be great joy in heaven when you truly say ‘Yes’ to Jesus. There is a prayer
on this website which may help you to come back to the Lord.

If you have made a decision today to return to the Father, please write
me, so that I can rejoice with you and pray for you. God bless you.

Michael Fackerell

Part 2 – The Older Son who Stayed

What was Jesus getting at with the part of the story? The older son
didn’t want to rejoice about the return of the younger son. He felt that
the father was unjust. He was looking down on his younger brother and wanted
nothing to do with him. And even the way he referred to him, not as ‘my
brother’, but as ‘this son of yours’ showed contempt both for the son and
the father.

The older son typified Jesus’ critics, who could not accept that God
would or should extend mercy to tax collectors and ‘sinners’. We see in
the older son the following attitudes:

Pride and stubborness: he “would not go in” and join the party,
he considered himself too good.

Self-righteousness: “all these years I have been serving you;
I never transgressed your commandment”. Some consider themselves righteous
through their rigid observance of God’s law or, more accurately, parts
of God’s law, yet their very attitude is a barrier to them receiving God’s
blessings and having joy in God’s presence!

Anger: “he was angry”. Anger is usually a result of feeling hurt
at perceived injustices. When it is because of perceived injustice against
oneself, God is generally not pleased with this kind of anger.

Disbelief in God’s goodness: “you never gave me a young goat,
that I might make merry with my friends”. I’m sure the son ate many good
meals at home, but he probably never asked the father for a goat, instead
preferring to nurture a kind of gripe against his father. It seems he despised
his father in his heart.

Selfishness: When the father divided his inheritance between
his sons, the older son never objects. He could have protested that this
was not appropriate, but instead he chose to take the inheritance from
his father.

Insecurity: the father had to assure him that “all I have is
yours”. He most likely thought that he would lose financially now that
the other son had returned.

Lack of Love: he could not rejoice that his brother, who was
lost and in trouble, had now returned to safety and blessing.

These attitudes are found in modern-day Pharisees in Christendom today,
and may be in our own hearts also to some extent. So let us take care to
adopt a new attitude if any of these things speak to us, especially as
people who may have always been in church, and perhaps feeling unappreciated
by God and beginning to doubt his goodness and compare ourselves with others
who seem to be promoted to God’s favor much quicker than we ourselves.
God does not promote pharisees in his kingdom – they have to promote themselves
and God resists them.

 

What do YOU think?

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About Michael Fackerell

The Christian faith is about Jesus. He came to save the lost. About Jesus Christ, Bible teaching, Testimonies, Salvation, Prayer, Faith, Networking.

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