The son who left home squandered his money (this is what prodigal means), on wine, women, and song and found himself broke. He was too humiliated to go home and allow his family and friends to see how much of a failure he was so he got a job cleaning pig stalls and was treated terribly. He was raised in a nice lifestyle so he wasn’t used to that kind of work or people who treated him like a second class citizen. One day he came to the realization that going home would be better than where he was. He knew he’d go back as a servant having given up his status in the family but figured that at least his family was good to the people who worked for them.
When he got close to his father’s farm, his dad and some servants ran out to greet him. When his father reached him the son bowed down in shame. He was crying and begging his father for forgiveness, telling him how he had let both God and his father down…he was humiliated. The son was shocked as his father lifted him up from the ground and held him in his arms. Both were crying. His father was so excited to see him and didn’t spend time yelling at him for the mistakes he made; instead he told his servants to prepare a large feast in order to celebrate his son’s return.
His brother was out working in the fields and as he approached the house he saw a big party taking place. As he got closer, his father ran up to him and told him his brother’s back and that he should join the celebration. He was very upset because over the last few years he stayed with his father and helped him keep the place running. Here his brother comes back as a total screw up and his dad throws a party for him; his dad never threw a party for him. He tells his father this and his dad hugged him and said you need to understand, you’ve never been lost, you’ve always been here with me and I love you for it. I lost your brother. I didn’t know if he’d ever come back so when I saw him I was overcome with joy. It doesn’t mean I love you less than him, we celebrate because he’s home where he’s supposed to be.
A couple of things to think about:
- The son walked away from home just like we often walk away from God and start doing our own things usually with not so good consequences.
- He squandered what his father had given him just like we sometimes squander the gifts God gives us.
- His reason for going home was completely selfish because he couldn’t stand the hard work he was doing and how badly he was treated. He wanted to go home where it would be a better environment for him. Don’t we often regain our faith for selfish reasons? When things are going well, we aren’t as inclined to communicate with God like we should but when something in our life goes bad, we’re back down on our knees begging for help, recommitting to our relationship for what are often selfish reasons.
- His father didn’t care why he came back he just wanted him home. He didn’t focus on his son’s sins but instead just showed him love. He probably even loved him more for his humility. He knew his son honestly repented. God is the same with us. He doesn’t care about why we run back to him again he’s just glad we’re back especially if we honestly repent.
- The brother being upset makes perfect sense to me. Here he’s been loyal to his father and his brother ends up getting the big celebration. Even though his brother blew everything his father welcomed him back and allowed him to keep his place in the family. I admit I would’ve probably been jealous and mad not understanding the big picture just like as Christians we don’t truly know the big picture until we go home.