As we near the end of our week on the parables, today we’re going to look at the parable of the prodigal son. Hanging in my office is a print of Rembrandt’s depiction of this biblical scene. It’s hard for me to think of another passage of Scripture that produces such continual fruit in my life on a daily basis. May these words of Jesus redefine our relationship with God for the better today.
“And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.'” Luke 15:21-24
Abba | Jonathan & Melissa Helser
Abba, Official Lyric Video from “Beautiful Surrender.” Get it on iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/beautiful-surrender or the Bethel Music Store: http://www.bethelmusic.com/store/product/beautiful-surrender Bethel Music’s collective of worship leaders aim to write and record songs that carry the culture of heaven and the heart of God. We exist to pursue the heart of God.
There isn’t a single passage of Scripture that better illustrates the heart of our heavenly Father than the parable of the prodigal son. So as to not miss any of the details of this life-changing passage, open your heart to the Spirit as you read it in its entirety.
And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.
“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”‘ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
“Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found'” (Luke 15:11-32).
The life-changing core of the gospel is that when we feel far from God, he is never far from us. The moment we turn back toward him, he runs out to meet us. The moment we lower ourselves in response to our sin, he exalts us, calls us his child, and throws a party in our honor. Sometimes the most important truths are the simple ones. Sometimes the very word we need most is the truth we’ve heard thousands of times. My prayer for you today is that you wouldn’t extend yourself past the foundation of the gospel. God’s desire is that we would linger in the revelation of the aftermath of Jesus’ work, that through his life, death, and resurrection we have been raised to newness of life (Romans 6:4). Get lost today in the profound grace of your loving God. Of no work of your own, you have been set free from the bonds of this earth and brought back into the fold of your loving heavenly Father. Through the sacrifice of King Jesus you have been crowned as a co-heir with Christ (Romans 8:17).
Take time today to simply rest in the foundational truth of the gospel. Run toward God with all humility and allow your heart to be raised up as he exalts you. Humble yourself in light of his majesty and allow him to pour out a joy over you like you have never felt before. God has every reason to condemn you, but out of his overwhelming love he has chosen to call you his beloved child. Meditate on this life-changing truth and respond to his love with the offering of your life.
1. Meditate on the profound truth of the gospel that you are fully loved only through the grace of your heavenly Father.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8
“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” John 1:12
“They shall be mine, says the Lord of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him.” Malachi 3:17
2. Where do you need to turn and run toward your heavenly Father? Acknowledge your total need of his grace and receive the abundant mercy he is waiting to pour over you.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 1 Peter 1:3
“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16
3. Spend time resting in the knowledge of Jesus’ finished work. Rest in the love of your heavenly Father. Allow his presence and his love to change you from the inside out today. Allow the Spirit to guide you into the heart of God.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
There is nothing you could do that could separate you from the love of your heavenly Father. The prodigal son sinned against his father in the worst way a son could. And still the father ran out to meet him at first glance of his son’s return. Your heavenly Father runs to meet you anytime you turn toward him. Don’t let the enemy spread lies to you that you are too dirty for God or that you have to fix yourself before you can spend time in his presence. Your relationship with God is based completely on grace, not on works. He loves you because he loves you, not because of what you do. Go out today in the knowledge that you are eternally loved by your heavenly Father, regardless of what you do. And may his love spur you toward a life lived in the abundance of restored relationship.