The Prodigal Brother( Luke 15 )
I was in my fathers office, administering payroll, when I heard a ruckus outside on the street. I ignored it at first, but it was gaining momentum and interrupting my work. It was late in the week and I presumed that the laborers were restless and desperate for their wages. I walked to the door and opened it, prepared to address the unruly crowd. *. *. *.
What I saw when I opened the door confounded me. My brother, whom I hadn't seen for years, was hoisted above the crowd, the object of everyones enthusiasm. And my father was there, tears flowing down his cheeks, consumed with joy." Let's celebrate! Bring the fattest calf! Bring the finest clothes! My son was lost, but now he's returned!". I quickly closed the door and battened the latch. I was beside myself with confusion and an anger that was welling up inside. My brother had always been a source of shame to the entire family. A few years ago he had begged for his inheritance, long before it was due. Like a fool, he'd settled for a lump sum, a fraction of the life long stipend that he would eventually be entitled to. We'd quickly heard stories about where he'd been, and what he'd been up to. The classic rebellion found him partying and gambling and in the company of harlots. And with every report I'd watched my father absorb the claims and then suffer their truths. I'd watched him age, seemingly overnight. His demeanor waned, and his eyes no longer flickered with the joy that had always encompassed him. Around mid day, he would slowly shuffle from the main house, out to the dusty road that passed by our land. And there he would wait, eyes straining, pleading for the return of my brother, his son. I'd been furious at first, watching him waste away, acting the fool. My brother was a ne'er do well, a hopeless cause. I worked twice as hard, easily absorbing my brothers responsibilities. And the land that we worked was prosperous. And the livestock we raised were burgeoning, quickly multiplying our wealth. But my perseverance seemed to mean little to my father, whose life now seemed to be draining out onto the makeshift road. The road that he'd watched as my brother walked away, and out of our lives. *. *. *. A fist slammed into the office door and brought me to my senses." SON! SON!??? Open the door! Your brother is here! Your brother has come home!! ". I sat for a moment, unable to move, unwilling to share in my Fathers delight. I heard a key rattling in the door, an effort to enter the room. I reluctantly got up and opened the door, and looked into the celebratory eyes of my father. And when I did, my anger and my indignance, was unbridled. "My whole life I have toiled for you! And never once did I leave your side!!, But for me you have never prepared a feast, or called for the finest linen. But for my brother, who has shamed you and deserted you, you now call together all the people of the land, to celebrate with you and with your wayward son". Then my Father took his hand, and placed it on mine. "Everything I have is yours. Your standing with me will never change. But your brother was lost, and now he is found. And for this, we surely must celebrate". *. *. *. In Luke chapter 15, Jesus shares this parable with his disciples, a classic example of His ability to use simplistic stories to capture fundamental teaching. The Father represents Jesus, who aches for each and every one of His children, when we have lost our way. Jesus doesn't write us off, or languish in righteous indignation. Rather he waits for us, desperate for us to return to Him. Luke, chapter 15, tells us that the Father (Jesus), waited for His son almost every day, looking afar, hoping for any sign of his return. And when he finally saw him, he "ran towards him, and fell on his neck before him" a gesture of immeasurable gratitude for the return of the lost son. But the older brother is incensed by the celebration. He is like the Pharisee's and the religious leaders of that time. Instead of celebrating the safe return of his brother, he is infuriated by the attention and the rejoicing of his father and the additional crowds that have gathered.But, not to be missed, is the story of the Prodigal himself. He has blown his inheritance and has reduced himself to the feeding of pigs, an animal considered foul and unclean. But next therein lies the key to redemption. The son, 'coming to his senses', acknowledges that he is unworthy of his former position within the family, and hopes for the opportunity to go back and serve the family like any other hired hand. In his recognition of his unworthiness, a true avenue to reconciliation is found.
Even when we walk away from the Lord, and no matter how far we fall, He is always there, standing on the road, patiently waiting for us to return.