Prodigal Son

Just how merciful is God?  How much grace does God really have?  Surely, He must “run out” of grace and mercy for those that just use and abuse it?  Many people, Christians included, have a view of God that just doesn’t line up with who He really is.  The parable of the prodigal son, found in Luke 15:12-32, is one of the best illustrations of the amazing love and grace God gives to us.  In this parable, you need to picture the “father” as God and the “son” as you and me.  Jesus knew who He was talking to and knew they would understand the “background” without having to explain it.  What do I mean?  The culture.  For the son to ask for his inheritance before the father passed away, was like spitting in his face and saying, “you, Father, are dead to me, so give me my inheritance now”, bringing shame to the family.  Additionally, to do this would also violate the 5th commandment “Honor your father and mother”.  Any son to make a request like this would be disowned by the father, and the father would slap the son in public, as an illustration of the breaking of the family ties.  This public act was done to bring shame to the son.  Give the culture this would the lowest a son could go.  Yet the father doesn't do what the law says he can do, he actually gives his son his inheritance.  Does the father do this because he knows the son will be wise?  No way, the son has already shown his lack of respect for his father while he is alive, what will stop him from bringing more shame to the father.  The son then takes this gift, goes away and blows it so badly that he went broke.  A famine hits the land and he gets a job feeding pigs, which would also bring shame to the family.  After some time, he decides to go home and seek forgiveness.  This is a risk, which we will look at shortly.  The father is looking for his son to return and when he sees his son from a distance, he does something that would bring more shame, he ran!  It was considered undignified for Jewish men to run, yet this father did. Once he reaches his son, he wraps himself around his son with a huge hug and kisses him.  Now understand, not only had the son insulted his father, brought shame to the family, the father still runs to him and embraces him.  But why did he do this, why did the father run?  There was a tradition back then that was called Kezazah Ceremony.  The town would meet the prodigal as the edge of town with clay pots held over their head and would throw the pots at the feet of the prodigal.  This was symbolically portraying the separation between the son and town, and the father.  This is why the son waited to come home, he knew ceremony could happen.  By the father running out there, bringing shame on himself, he would beat the town from performing this ceremony.  After this, he throws a party, for this son that was ‘lost’ was now found!  The father dresses him in the best robe, just like God the Father dresses us in righteousness.  We don’t deserve, he didn’t deserve, yet this is the love and grace of God.  He puts a ring on his finger, showing authority, and put sandals on his feet, for only servants were barefoot, but children wore sandals.  We who once were orphans are now adopted into the family of God.  It is truly Grace that saves us, redeems us, makes us clean, and treats us as if we have done nothing wrong.  Much love

Pastor Michael Garner

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