Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Parable of the Lost Son

I've been very blessed that Michael and I have started a new way of doing a daily devotional together.  We've tried many different ways like reading a devotional book, or reading out loud together.  These things last for a week or a few days but then usually fall to the wayside as life gets in the way.  But now we found a way to do some Bible studying together that really works for us and we have kept it going every single day since January 1st.  What we do is we pick a book of the Bible and each day on our own we read a chapter of the current book we are on.  We right down our thoughts and questions in a notebook and each night we come together with what we have read and discuss it.  Some nights it leads to long discussions and other nights are simply an over view of what we read that night.

We are currently going through Luke with a plan to follow it up with Acts.  About a week ago we read through chapter 15 which contains The Parable of the Lost Sheep, the Parable of the Lost Coin and the Parable of the Lost Son.  Now I've read through these many times and have always gotten the gist of what they were about but never really dove deeply into these parables before.  All three parables have the same principle to it, when the lost are returned to God there is a celebration in heaven when people return to God.  This is a wonderful thing and it hit me that God celebrated me.  What a concept?!  God celebrated me!  This thought brings me such incredible joy.  God has so many people that love him, but when I can to him he celebrated my coming into his family.

But I always had a problem with the parable of the Lost Son.  If you need a refresher here it is.  This Parable is found in Luke 15: 11-32

11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
   13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
   17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.
   “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
   21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
   22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
   25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’
   28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
   31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

Now, in the past when I have read through this I have identified not with the lost son, but instead with the older son.  My thought was, why are you celebrating this stupid kid who ran off, took your stuff and did awful things and not the son who stayed with you, took care of your things and loved you?  This bitterness affected the way I viewed my life as well.  There were times that I would think to myself, how can they love God, call themselves a Christian with how they behave?  I was judging where I had no right, but this is not what we are talking about now.

This last time that I read it through, after the son returns and the father holds a celebration for him and the older son questions the father saying "I've done everything you've ever asked of me but you never gave me the things you are giving him who wasted your resources and ran off!  Why?"  But the fathers response is what really hit me, "'My son,' the father said, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.'"  His celebration of the lost son has nothing to do with his love for the other.  He always belonged to the father, he had his love, care and protection.  The father does not love him less because of his celebration of the other, he is just showing his happiness of the return of the lost, because he could not reach him before.

When we have family members that we have not seen or heard of in a long time to we not become excited to see them and celebrate?  Some celebrate with hugs and kisses and tears and others celebrate this with parties and big family get togethers.  But those who are always around, the big celebration isn't needed because they were always there.  They receive a daily celebration of love because they are present to get it.  I get the love from God because I am daily blessed to be in his presence.  I get to have his love, grace and mercy each and every single day.  There are many out there who do not have this covering because they choose to remain lost, but when they come to God they will receive the celebration to say "welcome to the family" and get the love they have been missing out on because they just wouldn't come home.