“He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20)
We all know the story of the prodigal son. Through the years it has been called different things such as “The Prodigal Son”, “The Lost Son”, “Two Sons” and even in some cases “The Running Father”. But to the listeners of Jesus’ time they might have called the story “The Foolish Father”. The way he handled his wayward and lost son was completely illogical and against the tradition of the first century Jews.
The first thing, by asking for his inheritance early and while his father was still living would, to the Jewish people, mean that the son actually was wishing that his father was dead. Normally a Jewish father would be furious over this kind of a request, but he went ahead and divided up the inheritance anyway.
The second thing, when his father gave him his share of the inheritance, cattle, crops and whatever else, the son went right off and sold it all and took the money and ran off with all of it. Not only would this be an insult in the time of Jesus, but it was a huge financial blow for the father. Even if he had refused to divide up his estate before he died, his sons wouldn’t have been allowed to sell anything at all until their father passed away. After all, while their father was still alive he had to have some way to live.
Then comes the part of the father running to greet his long lost son would have been truly shocking to the listeners of Jesus. This would have been considered an undignified thing for a mature man to do, go chasing after his son such as that. The Jewish society was a patriarchal society and it was the children that went running to the father and not the other way around. So, this also would have seen to be scandalous to the Jews for a father to humiliate himself in such a way in front of such an ungrateful son.
And the last thing when the father had the fatted calf killed and he threw a huge party for his returned son, he was indirectly using some of his older son’s inheritance in order to do this. After all there wasn’t anything else to use to throw this party. So, it’ no wonder that the older son got so upset!
The reason why Jesus used this father’s outlandish and scandalous behavior for his listeners is so that He could point out the true depth of God’s mercy. Think about it, it is almost illogical the way in which our Father in heaven forgives us over and over again. It is almost scandalous in the way that He lavishes us with such undeserved treasures. But, this is our God, this is who He really is and His love for us is truly real.
Try to imagine that God is running toward you right now, His robes hiked up and His glorious face filled with extreme anticipation! Doesn’t that simply make you want to run as fast as you can to Him?
“Thank You, Lord, for Your endless mercy to me. Show me how to run home to You and receive Your inheritance!”
Micha 7:14-15, 18-20
Psalm 103:1-4, 9-12
Father too often we act as wayward children by running from You and still wanting everything You have to give us. Still, You stand there with open arms ready to greet us upon our return.
Please show us that even though You will take us back, it is much better for us to stay by Your side so that You might walk with us on our journey always.
Show us that we can’t do it alone and that we need Your grace and guidance.
Thank You Lord for the mercy and forgiveness that You show us through Your cross and all the other blessings that You shower upon us.
Let us pray that we can cast aside our selfishness and pick up our own cross and follow You more closely each day.