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The painting above by Rembrandt depicts the story of The Prodigal Son. In the forefront, you see the lost son being embraced by the loving father. And I’m guessing that the middle figure in the back behind the father is the older son. Here are some of my thoughts about this story.
A couple of weeks ago at my men’s group, we were discussing different parables that we liked and disliked. We talked about different ones and what they meant. One of the parables we talked about more extensively was The Parable of the Lost Son (or The Prodigal Son). This story told by Jesus in Luke 15 is an amazing story about a runaway son who finds redemption, about a loving father who grants forgiveness, and about an older son who is conflicted by the happenings surrounding his brother and his father.
I love this story and I dislike the story all at the same time. I love that we all are offered forgiveness and grace. We have all screwed up, and our Father runs to us with open arms as we return to Him. I identify with the older son who seems to have done everything correctly, but who sometimes feels lost in the shadows as those around me celebrate the stories of people who have “returned home” following a path of drunkenness, debauchery, and destruction. I know this sounds selfish and shortsighted, and it is. But it’s also an honest response. I am so thankful for my upbringing, my early found faith, and my journey. And I really don’t want any turmoil or trouble in my life that could come as a result of straying from God. But there are times where I feel overlooked or undervalued because I don’t have a more colorful story of how I was lost but found Christ.
Just a window into my thoughts – enough whining! Whether you relate to the younger son or the older son, we can all be thankful for God’s grace and forgiveness. We can all experience redemption. And I think this is why I ultimately love this story. It convicts me of my own selfishness and jealousy, and it offers a clear hope for me. You see, I believe the Father would do anything for both of the sons. He loves both of them lavishly and completely. God, my Father, loves me despite my junk.
Do you believe that? How do you relate to this story?