Advent: December 21

Luke 15:11-32

Jesus also told them another story: Once a man had two sons. The younger son said to his father, "Give me my share of the property." So the father divided his property between his two sons. Not long after that, the younger son packed up everything he owned and left for a foreign country, where he wasted all his money in wild living. He had spent everything, when a bad famine spread through that whole land. Soon he had nothing to eat. He went to work for a man in that country, and the man sent him out to take care of his pigs. He would have been glad to eat what the pigs were eating, but no one gave him a thing. Finally, he came to his senses and said, "My father's workers have plenty to eat, and here I am, starving to death! I will go to my father and say to him, 'Father, I have sinned against God in heaven and against you. I am no longer good enough to be called your son. Treat me like one of your workers.' "

The younger son got up and started back to his father. But when he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt sorry for him. He ran to his son and hugged and kissed him. The son said, "Father, I have sinned against God in heaven and against you. I am no longer good enough to be called your son." But his father said to the servants, "Hurry and bring the best clothes and put them on him. Give him a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. Get the best calf and prepare it, so we can eat and celebrate. This son of mine was dead, but has now come back to life. He was lost and has now been found."

This parable of Jesus’ is a masterpiece. It tells of Father’s ridiculous love for a wasteful wretch. We may be left feeling a little aggrieved at how the younger son’s wasteful behaviour has actually brought shame to his family, or how the other son’s inheritance (for Father has given away half of his property and possessions on the waster) is now being spent on the returned waster. We may even feel that the older son won’t have the same inheritance as his younger brother as there’d be nothing left.

If we feel this way then we are missing the meaning behind the parable, and are taking it too literally. For a start, our Father God has limitless resources. He is aware that we might waste them, or, like the older son, not even avail ourselves of them. After all, didn’t Apostle Paul say that if a man does not work he should not eat?! Does not that set the tone of our relationship with God?

Yes, we can be miserable if we want – if we ask for nothing we will get nothing, and that’s as good as God can give us. Nothing, even when blessed by being pressed down and filled to the brim, still amounts to nothing. What if we start asking for something that we think, in our misguided humility, is more than we deserve? What if we ask God to bless us, to favour us in our work, our leisure, our skills, our income? He’d love to do that, but could we ask?

Father God restores me when I have wasted my inheritance. It’s not automatic. I must return, like the younger son, and confess, knowing that my desire is to be back with the God I abandoned. While I at times may consider myself not to be God’s son because I’m not worthy, God himself does not know any relationship with me other than as Father. I really know that I am a child of God by adoption when I return to the One whose love, demonstrated to me through the blood of His Son Jesus, pulls me back with open arms though I deserve nothing. I cannot express in words how much my Father God loves me. Every time I repent of anything Father God sets out a feast.

Do you stand tall in your Father’s house?

Do you live in the inheritance of God’s riches?

Do you dare not ask God for things, for fear of being seen to be greedy?

Do you know complete forgiveness in God through Jesus’ blood?

Do you know how much it cost God to give you free forgiveness?

Do you keep repenting the same thing each week? Why?

What are you still concealing from God?

Father God, you are more generous that I could ever ask or imagine. Teach me that your most generous gift, rich beyond measure,  has already been poured out when Jesus died for me. Nothing compares with this. Thank you, Father. Amen.

Scripture taken from the Contemporary English Version © 1991, 1992, 1995 by American Bible Society, Used by Permission.

Paul