SECOND IN MY TEACHING SERIES ON THE PARABLES OF JESUS
Parable of the Lost Son
Luke 15:11-32 NLT
“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!’
A common theme in Jesus’ parables is the contrast between brokenness and self-righteousness. At the point in history when Jesus walked the earth, there had never been a “religion” that purported authenticity to be more desirable than adherence to dogma. How dare Jesus shift the entire paradigm. In all of human history, no spiritual belief system had taken the risk to challenge the status quo.
in the 21st century where we find ourselves, this very same dichotomy exists all around us. Both in the religious world and in the secular world, there is a general current of belief that has it core doctrine built upon this type of equation:
MY PERFORMANCE (What I do, and how well i do it) + OTHERS’ PERCEPTIONS AND APPROVAL (How I measure up to an arbitrary standard of expectation) = MY SELF-WORTH BEFORE GOD (How I feel about myself)
Long story short, Jesus wants the reader of this parable to see that the lost son actually personifies the condition of the heart that Jesus favors. The older son — committed to a life of perfect compliance and obedience — was so righteous that he became blinded to the reason to celebrate his own brother’s return.
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