We got into a time machine today and wound up in first century Palestine. Jesus was there telling the story of a young man who demanded his father give him what he would have inherited upon his passing but wanted it then and there. His dad handed it to him, he took it and headed for the Vegas of his day – bright lights, big city, fast cars (chariots back then) free flowing cocktails and hot women.
Little doubt the boy’s father’s face stung at such a demand coming from his child as if he had been slapped to the ground. It was a despicable request that would not only have been frowned upon in that period of time but was a disgraceful act of disrespect that could have well found this young man severely beaten, disowned and banished, even put to death. It was in essence a son saying to his father, “I want nothing more to do with you. I don’t like your rules, I don’t like your lifestyle, I don’t like you – you are dead to me old man”, our pastor pointed out.
When life in the fast lane hit a traffic jam for our young high roller, though, when famine hit the land; similar to a Wall Street investor during the great depression this wayward son’s money ran out and so did his luck, his friends turned up MIA too (funny how it works that way).
With no soup or bread lines to get in, he was forced to accept a job slopping hogs, and with increasing hunger pains making the slop look good and the putrid stench begin to smell good, he stops and takes inventory discovering that life back on the farm wasn’t so bad after all. In fact, his dad’s hired servants were far better off than he. The bitter aftertaste of pride setting in, he swallows hard, puts together a well-worded speech, rehearses it repeatedly and heads towards home to face the father he had dishonored and beg for his mercy.
Seeing his son in the distance coming towards home, this dad runs to him embraces him, and though the son tries to get his prepared speech for mercy past his lips, the father wasn’t looking for an explanation, not even an apology. He calls out for the tailor to replace his son’s filthy, worn and tattered clothes with his finest robe, he gets the jeweler to put a beautiful ring on his finger, the cobbler to get new sandals on his feet and the family chef busy about preparing a gourmet meal for family and friends – it was going to be a celebration, one gigantic party.
The startled band of religious leaders listening to Jesus’ story stood around in stark horror at such an atrocity being perpetrated against a good man going without severe repercussions – unheard of. In fact, it is reasonable to think the Pharisee’s in complete disbelief would have said to Jesus, “not one father in all Israel, in the entire world, would respond to such a shameful son in this manner.” Then Jesus would look at them and say, “I know one”.
This devotional thought is based on a powerful and convicting message delivered at the Community Life Church on Sunday, June 19, 2016. It is the second in a four-part sermon series titled, “Prized”. You can follow along by clicking this link http://www.clifec.com/resources/sermons/