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Weekly Worship - The Father of the Prodigal Son

Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32

15:1 Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him.

15:2 And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, "This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them."

15:3 So he told them this parable:

15:11b "There was a man who had two sons.

15:12 The younger of them said to his father, 'Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.' So he divided his property between them.

15:13 A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living.

15:14 When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need

15:15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs.

15:16 He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything.

15:17 But when he came to himself he said, 'How many of my father's hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger!

15:18 I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you;

15:19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands."'

15:20 So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him.

15:21 Then the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'

15:22 But the father said to his slaves, 'Quickly, bring out a robe--the best one--and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.

15:23 And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate;

15:24 for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!' And they began to celebrate.

15:25 "Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing.

15:26 He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on.

15:27 He replied, 'Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.'

15:28 Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him.

15:29 But he answered his father, 'Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends.

15:30 But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!'

15:31 Then the father said to him, 'Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.

15:32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.'"

I can’t imagine the position that the father of the prodigal son was in. Having his youngest son come and ask to take one-third of his property only to leave the family behind. He had no idea where his son would go. Then a famine overtook the land, and the father would have no idea if his son was even alive. The Bible does not mention how long the prodigal son was gone. It could have been months, or even years not knowing what the son has gone through. I wouldn’t have lasted a day with such uncertainty.

Then finally, his son returns to him. After seeing him in the field, the father is moved to compassion and joy for the return of his son. Though the father doesn’t know that the son squandered everything he had and ate pig food, he doesn’t care. He embraces his son as if he never left. Before the son can even finish talking, the father gives him his best robe, a ring and sandals, and kills a fatted calf for him in celebration.

While his youngest son received a celebration, his oldest son was angry. The oldest son states he’s worked as a slave and never received such a celebration. The father’s response is significant: “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.”

Some of us who have been in church for a while sometimes forget how much we have been blessed. We forget that God has been a part of our lives for so long, working through us to spread peace and love. We sometimes feel like the oldest brother, jealous of the treatment someone else receives when we have been a part of the children of God for such a long time. We often forget that “all that is mine is yours.” Let us count our blessings each day while remembering to celebrate just as the father celebrated the return of his son.

This parable demonstrates the never-ending love and compassion we receive from God. Whether we have been a part of the flock since the days of Adam, or have been lost and have been found, God welcomes all of us to celebrate together!

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