Most of us know the parable Jesus spoke, of a father who had two sons—one of whom stayed with him, the other who went off, spent all his inheritance, and then returned home.
Jesus in His teaching spoke repeatedly about the importance of honoring parents and our heavenly Father. As such, you would think that creating a lesson where the unfaithful son was blessed greatly by his father after dishonoring him would somehow go against all Jesus taught. Yet, we are ALL the prodigal son. Both Jew and Gentile. So, where does that put us?
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”—Romans 3:23
The return of the prodigal son to his father can be a difficult teaching to fully accept. After all, Jesus preached that we are to honor our mothers and our fathers not once, but repeatedly. Our being the prodigal son should make no difference…
‘…if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.’
“He said to Him, ‘Which ones?’
“Jesus said, ‘“You shall not murder,” “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “Honor your father and your mother,” and, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”’”—Matthew 19:17-19
Jesus not only honored His heavenly Father in EVERYTHING He did, but even honored His earthly mother as He hung on the cross—seeing to it that a disciple would, in essence, become her son and take care of her…
Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold your son!’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother!’ And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.”—John 19:25-27
Since Jesus, Himself being perfect, fulfilled all of these things, and commanded us to do likewise, our being more akin to the prodigal son should be a problem. An insurmountable one at that…
Yet, in our Father’s mercy, it is not!
Restoration of the Prodigals:
When the prodigal son returned home from his self-centered existence, having lost all the money—all the inheritance—his father had given him, he was not greeted as he was deserved. He was greeted with love. With mercy, compassion, and even, unwarranted honor.
Our own choice to enter the prodigal existence is a striking parallel to how the prodigal son left his father’s home. When we were in the Garden we took our Father’s blessings and cast them this way and that for ‘knowledge’ and began to wander away from the glory and serenity of living in our Father’s house. It was this choice in the Garden that thrust us into our prodigal existence; yet, our Father never forgot us.
Our Father desired our return—just as the father of the prodigal son desired his own son’s return. God gave His heavenly son to pay the price of our iniquity; though, unlike the faithful son of the story, Jesus did not complain. He took the suffering of death and the grave upon Himself to restore us to our Father.
We, through the blood of Jesus, are made whole again, and through that grace, have the choice of restoration laid before us.
Spiritually, we have all been where the prodigal son was, left alone, penniless, and suffering—no matter how young or old we may have been when we were reunited with our Father. Yet, we do not have to come home bleeding and battered. We do not have to wait until we are at death’s door.
We can choose to come to the door of our Father’s house at any time. We can seek Him, and He, being the wonderful, merciful Father that He is… He will let us in. He will develop a relationship with us, but more than that, He will call us His own!
Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!…”—1 John 3:1
That verse, 1 John 3:1, is a beautiful example of the Father’s love. It lays plain the fact that we are His children and He our Father. It tells us that it is the result of love—which, according to 1 John 4:8, is what God is.
We, when we accept Jesus as our own, find direct access to the Father. We find the restoration of our inheritance; even that which we so carelessly tossed upon the ground and gave to the world.
We are brought into our Father’s house—the house of the King of kings—and we are clothed in royal robes of righteousness! We are given a family and authority that we did not earn. We are given love.
Using Our Restoration to the Fullest:
Since our Father redeemed us and brought us gladly back into His arms—our family—it is important that we do not squander that blessing, or worse, return to the old, prodigal lifestyle.
Our Father desires so much more for us than lack, sickness, darkness, and damnation. He desires life for us. He desires us to know that He is ever faithful, and because of that, we can trust Him with anything. We can turn to our Father and ask for His help at any time. We can do all things!
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity…”—Jeremiah 29:11-14
By all rights we should at best be God’s servants, and yet, in His mercy and love He has made us family. He has brought us in, put a ring on our finger, the choicest clothes upon our backs, and called us His children!
God asks little in return. He loved us when we were lost, and loves us when we are found. His love never runs out. Yet, it is not us who are deserving of honor, it is God. It is not us who are deserving of praise, it is God. It is not us who are deserving of blessings, it is God. It is not us who are deserving of being called ‘king priests,’ it is God.
While God gives us so many things freely, we can better use our restoration when we honor Him. When we love Him and serve Him with all of our hearts; knowing that yes, we are ‘king’s kids,’ but that only by becoming more like Him, can we fully live and know joy.
We can feed His sheep, seeking out the other prodigal children of God and returning them home, so that they may join us at our Father’s table and partake of His goodness.
And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
“But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’…”—Luke 15:20-24
Let us, in one way, be like the prodigal son… let us see the error of our ways and return to our Father, humbly, and with hope. Let us praise Him only and do as He commanded in all things; such as, honoring our father and mother on earth, so that God, through our obedience, may be honored.