Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Prodigal Son (Parts 1 & 2)


The Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) – Part 1

He sat with tax collectors and others who were considered outcasts.  The Pharisees grumbled, upset because Jesus sat in the presence of sinners, those their law considered unworthy.  And He told them stories; about a lost sheep, a lost coin, a lost son:


I went to my father and told him that this life was not what I wanted for myself.  I needed to find my own sense of worth.  Despite the love he held in his heart for me I needed to find my own way.  A life of farming was not what I envisioned for myself.  I asked for my inheritance, as bold as that sounds.  I demanded my half of everything my father owned.

And he gave it to me.

With my share of my father's wealth I headed to a foreign land.  I intended to have the best of times, eat, drink, be merry and take my choice of beautiful, exotic women.  I fell in and out of love, if that's what you would have called it.  My father would have called my desires sinful lust.  I spent my money with abandon on every material item I could imagine, never thinking that every coin was earned by my father's hard work and calloused hands.

But soon my good time ended.  I heard of famines, droughts and wars.  At first I didn't think these hardships would affect me.  In time these disasters came knocking on my door.  In the aftermath my wealth had blown away like the desert dust.  I was without shelter on the street and not a single denarius in my pocket.

I begged for a job from a farmer not unlike my father, but not nearly as wealthy.  My job was to feed the pigs.  The scraps of garbage I gave them looked more tempting than the slop I had to force into my stomach.

One night, I said to myself, as I laid in the damp cold beside the pen for the swine. "My father's servants are better off than I am.  Even the lowest of his workers has more to eat than I do."  It pained me to consider returning home, without any of my father's wealth to my name. "Father, take me back," I planned to say. "Treat me as a servant, not your son.  I placed myself above you and threw the fruits of your labor into the streets with harlots."

I hoped he would at least allow me to harvest crops from the fields in the hot sun.

I started down the barren stretch of road, leading back to the home of my innocence.  This journey was hard, filled with so much regret.  My stomach ached from lack of nourishment.  I craved a drink of cool water to wash the dust from my throat.

But when my legs were at their weakest, I saw him.  A distant figure on a hillside.  My legs gained the strength to continue toward him.  I practiced my words of repentance until we were face to face and I fell into his embrace, sobbing.

The Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) - Part 2

The land is vast, but daily I come to watch, hoping my son will someday change his heart and return to me.  I have aged much and the walk from my home to the crest of this hill is tiring.  My legs ache, but I will make this journey every day, because he is my son.

So I stand and wait, watching the horizon for a sign.


On the brink of the afternoon sun reaching the crown of its arch a figure approached.  Gradually characteristics clarified and I recognized the individual as my youngest son.  He was now bearded and his hair was uncut.  He looked to be overly thin and sickly.  My old tired legs carried me down the hill as fast as they were able.  He fell into my embrace and began to spout off a litany of apologies.  He claimed himself unworthy to be called my son.

My heart broke, as I knew it would, as he cried and begged for forgiveness.  I led him back to our home and beckoned one of my servants. "Take care of him," I said with a joy filled heart. "Bathe him and give him fresh clothing.  Tonight we are going to feast and celebrate.  Take one of our finest calves and slaughter it.  Today is the day I have prayed for.  My prayer has been answered.  This family of mine is whole once again."

Now as the evening neared my eldest son came out of the fields after a hard day's labor.  He was a hard and trustworthy worker, my reliable one. "What is this I hear," he asked, "about my brother who left with half the value of your holdings and now returns a pauper?"

"My son has returned... your brother."

"I don't understand this father," he continued. "This son of yours has sinned against all that you represent.  He returns after spending your wealth on gambling and prostitutes and you welcome him back with open arms, with no conditions.  You have never thrown a party for me... for any purpose.  I have slaved for you without complaint.  What have I received in return?"

"Please understand," I said with great sadness. "Your brother was lost and has now been found.  He was dead and has come back to life.  What I have is always yours... everything.  There is no need of envy.  Your brother has sought forgiveness.  I have prayed for his return... and now we celebrate that my prayer has been answered."

copyright 2016 - Donald P James Jr


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