At our monthly all-age service, One Big Church, we conclude our Lost series by looking at the Parable Of The Lost Son. Bina Makgwana and Debbie Schofield speak on how through Jesus, we can all return to God.
…the son left and went to his father. While the son was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt sorry for his son. So the father ran to him and hugged and kissed him.Luke 15:20
I’m going to reflect on this story of the parable of the son. And it’s actually one of my favourite parables, particularly because of what God showed me when reading this parable a couple of years ago.
So I know we all know it as the prodigal son and the lost son, but I want you to think about it a little bit different with me today. So as we just read the story of the lost son, we can focus on the youngest son as the one who was the sinner that went away and he spoiled all his inheritance and went out into the world and left his father so that he can do his will and what pleased him. And we can focus on that and think to ourselves, I might have been in this position, but actually, I think there’s more to that story as well.
We know at the end of the story as well, the older brother was quite upset when the younger son returned home and the father kind of clothed him with these lavish clothes and asked the servants to celebrate his return. And he was quite upset about that. And I wondered, God, why did you put that bit in there? And I love what the father said to his older son at the end of the scripture and I’ll read it to you. He said,
The father said you are always with me and everything I have is yours. But we need to return, but we had to celebrate and be glad because his brother of yours was dead and is alive again. He was lost and now he’s found.
So we have a younger son here who was a sinner and was burdened with everything that he did, but he knew that he could return to his father’s home because he knew that even the servants in his father’s home were treated better than he was. They got three-course meals and even more to be left over. But then we also have an older son who was in his father’s house, but he wanted to relate to God as a servant. So it got me thinking, what is sin? And what is this parable really about?
I believe it’s about the love of a father, a father that wants his children to dwell with him in his house and who wants the best for his children. So how did the younger son know that he can return back to the father? When he thought and he remembered, even the servants in my father’s kingdom are treated better than I am. How did he know that he can return back after having squandered and sinned and done everything that he can do that was displeasing to God and displeasing to himself? How did he know? It’s because he remembered how loving his father was. He remembered how kind his father was. And that’s what led him to go back and to return to his father. In Romans 2, it says,
don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?
Now, undoubtedly, I believe my mum is one of the kindest and sweetest people alive. She’s the best. She’s over here if you want to praise her. She is absolutely the best, hands down. And I know for a fact that there’s pretty much nothing I can do that will make her stop loving me. She might be disappointed, but I can guarantee that there are a lot of things that she has not liked that I’ve done in this lifetime. And she has managed not to change the keys to her house. But what makes it so easy for me to please her is because I know this. I have this reassurance. If she was wicked and horrible, I probably wouldn’t care. I’d find somewhere else to live. Because even if I went back, I would be worried about returning. I would think, what would she think? I would have to do something in order to please her again and to be welcomed back into her home. But it’s because of her kindness and her love that causes me to know one, that I can always return back, but also causes me to act and not sin, not do anything that will disappoint her, not do anything that will cause her to be upset with me. You want to make her proud. You want her to love you.
So it’s God’s love and it’s God’s kindness that brings all men back into repentance and allows you to turn away from your sin. And so this is something that the older son might have not comprehended. He might have been in the kingdom of God, but he still wanted to relate to him as a servant. If he had the confidence as the younger son to say, hey, what’s mine is yours, and ask for whatever he needed from his father, he would have rejoiced when his younger brother came back, but he didn’t know. He was in the kingdom, but he did not know the love of the father. And so really this parable speaks about the love of the father and not being ignorant or unknowing of how much he loves you.
So I want you to think that my father loves me. And really that is the confidence that we have, is to embrace the father’s love and to know that everything that he has, he has given to me, that even when I return, I don’t return as the servant in his kingdom, but I return as the son in his kingdom, the daughter in his kingdom. And with that, you’re able to return to God, be close to the father and dwell with him in that reassurance.