Friday, 23 August 2019
What does prodigal mean anyway?
I guess we all know the parable of the Prodigal Son. A rich man had two sons, the younger one asked his father for his share of the inheritance, took the money and went away to spend it all on wine, women and songs. Personally, I would have chosen chocolate instead of one of those three.
When the money ran out, and there was a famine, the wasteful son came to his senses and returned to his father in repentance.
The father was glad to see him back and had a great feast to celebrate the return of his son.
When the older son found out he was very angry and upset because he had been faithful to his father all along, working 24/7 in the fields, and never got anything as a reward.
Now I suspect that most people, like me, would sympathise with the older brother. After all, the younger one wasted all the money away and here he is, once again, welcomed back to share even more of what is left.
But what is Jesus really trying to teach us in this parable?
He is reminding us once again about God's infinite mercy for us. Time and time again, no matter how much we sin, or how serious a sin, we should never doubt His mercy. Once a sin is repented over, God's love consigns that sin to a place where it should never again hinder our progress towards Him.
God is merciful and He forgives time and again.
Jesus said that He would leave the ninety-nine sheep and go looking for the one that is lost.
"In the same way, I tell you that there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous ones who do not need to repent" (Luke 15:7).
In human terms, it is understandable if we feel sorry for the older brother who feels hard done by in this parable. But Jesus here is not talking about money, or inheritance, or fairness.
He is telling us that God is merciful and He forgives. And we should not be jealous if He forgives someone whom we consider not worthy of forgiveness. Rather, we should be glad that one lost soul has been saved and once more returned to the family of God.
As for us, when we have sinned and repented we must be glad of God's mercy and forgiveness. We should consign our regrets, our bitterness, our self-pity and disappointments of ourselves to the past where they belong. And rejoice that we too have been welcomed back like the prodigal son.