I will arise and go to my father…
How many times have I came to this same conclusion? How often I have made the decision to leave and go out on my own, each time coming home filled with regret and shame. Coming to myself in a moment of startling clarity, looking around at the hog pen I’m now calling home , I begin crying deep soul cleansing sobs.
The story I am referencing is not a new story and it certainly has been written down and spoken many times over. So for clarification I am not trying to bring anything new to the table, rather I want to remind you of what you already know.
Let’s just look at a few sentences or rather a few facts in this passage briefly if you have time?
- The man had (2) sons vs. 11
- The younger asked for his portion, but the father divided it to them (plural) vs. 12
- The young son leaves and go to a far away country and blows all his inheritance on sin vs. 13
- When he is broke famine sweeps the country he’s living in vs. 14
- He indentures himself to a citizen of that foreign country and is given a task forbidden for a Jewish man to do vs. 15
- He is starving and would eat the husk the pigs are eating if he could vs. 16
- He comes to himself and decides to go and beg to become his fathers servant vs. 17, 18
- He is practicing what he is going to tell his father vs. 19
- He takes the first step toward home and the father runs to meet him, falling on him with joy vs. 20
Let’s take a break right here and pause the story for just a moment if I may?
We see a couple of interesting things going here first of which is the younger son deciding he’s big enough to be on his own. So he ask for his portion of his father’s house. The father agrees and divides all of his living or rather everything he has with both of his sons.
What I find remarkable here is the silence on the part of the oldest son. You would think that as the oldest and all the responsibility of the family resting on him, he would have at the least voiced some concerns about this young brother leaving home with a substantial portion of his families wealth.
Yet he remains quiet, really quite.
If I were a guessing person I would almost get the idea he was glad the boy left home, but that is purely speculation and you can take it with a grain of salt.
So, back to the list..
- The son starts his spill he has rehearsed all the way home, but notice he never gets to finish it all… vs. 21
- The father so overjoyed, orders a fatted calf, a robe & ring and they begin to party. vs. 22-24
- Now when the older son comes home he hears all the merriment and questions what’s going on? vs. 25-26
- He is caught up to speed on his brother coming home and what all the partying means vs. 27
- Ah here it comes, the once silent son has now become an angry man, so much so his father left the party to enquire about the ruckus vs. 28
- The oldest son begins to list all his glorious accomplishments and attributes, bitterly bemoaning the fact there had never been a party thrown in his honor. vs. 29
- He continues telling of the years of faithful service to his father, getting angry that he and his friends had never been given a grand party. Angry that the younger brother had gone out living like a tramp and he got a huge party thrown for him just because he came home. vs. 30
- This is my favorite part of this story, this where the father tells the son that he has had everything in his house all along and that he could have thrown numerous parties if he wanted to. He reminds him that his once dead son was now alive again and reason enough to rejoice. vs31-32
There are so many ways you could look at these two sons, so many parallels to be drawn, but it’s not the point of my post.
The one thing I want to point out is the fact from verses 11 to verses 31 there was never a point of time that either son recognized the fathers love. They didn’t have a clue who their father was. I can identify with that on so many levels.
I see the very same thing in our churches even today. Oh we talk about His love allot but rarely do we have a clue just what His love to us means.
Each son was vying for favor with their father with either a list of accomplishments or a list of regrets. One thought he deserved all the fathers house because of his faithfulness and one thought he only deserved to be a hired servant just so he could eat.
Hired servants in those days were lower on the totem pole than slaves and thus were more often than not treated very badly. The youngest son just wanted to be in the house and do whatever work he could do so he could eat. At this point conditions were inconsequential.
The older son had grown callused and cold hearted. He was in no way happy that his brother had come home and if the truth were known he was probably mad he had come home alive.
The fact of the matter is that the older son had been given his portion of the inheritance as had the younger. So the likelihood is that all that the father was doing was coming out of the inheritance of the older.
Again, purely speculation on my part but you could see where that could cause some major animosity between the two.
How often I have been guilty of wanting all the father has for me. I’m thinking I’m grown up mature and I can handle whatever is out there on my own.
It’s not to terribly long before I am overtaken by the wiles of the devil and groveling in his hog pens wishing I could go home. Sadly I fail to see how much my father loves me.
When I do come to myself and decide to go home and beg for a place at the table with his servants, instead of the wrath I really deserve, I find myself overwhelmed by his great love and mercy toward me.
Washed in relief and thankful to be alive I start to hear the angry voice of my brother screaming and I cringe in shame wishing that my brother would be happy to see me as well. From the sound coming from outside the door I get the idea he wishes I had died out there in the hog pens.
He definitely doesn’t welcome me home as much as my father has done, yet I still hope for the day of reconciliation that hopefully will come
Nestling down in the bed I’ve always had since a child I sleep like a baby comforted and safe in my fathers house.
Last night my bed was with the hogs and now I’m asleep in my fathers house.
I see so much of the church in the older brother. You have those who will welcome their brothers or sisters who have chosen the wrong place to sleep. Still the majority will scream ‘crucify them.’ How odd and disturbing a feeling to carry if you name the name of Christ.
I think it is really sad when we reject those who our father is welcoming home. It is really tragic that because we hold such contempt for failure many will run from our father in shame never to return.
The point I want to make, is that Jesus came to seek and to save the lost, not just as in going to hell lost, but those who were currently sleeping in someone else bed.
Is this you? Do you feel lost and without hope and scared to go home because of a brother or sister who will be angry? I have been there and normally I would say ‘I’m ashamed to say it’ but if it will give you hope to return to our father I will tell you straight up; I was lost but now I’m found. I have a story rivaling the woman at the well and you better believe there are many who cringe that I sit in the seats and tell of the love of God.
Yet I have been redeemed washed in the blood and I now reside in my father’s house because he welcomed me there.
Come home, come home, you who are weary come home~~~~
Earnestly, tenderly Jesus is calling. Calling Oh sinner come home~
So the real question is? Whose bed are you gonna sleep in tonight?
I’m hid with Christ!