by Ps. Mark Banyard
In Luke 15, we have the parable of the prodigal son, but I would like to re-title it as The Parable of the Two Lost Sons, because there are actually two sons, not one. Alternatively, it could also be entitled The Parable of the Loving Father because as much as this parable is about sons, it is also about a father in his response to his sons.
Now the parables that Jesus told were more than just stories. They are God-designed ways of revealing truth. But oddly enough, they hide truth as well. They hide truth from people who are proud and wise in their own eyes, people who are trying to benefit from knowing things about God without knowing Him. We google all the time to know things about God, the Bible, theology and so on. If we are not careful, we are actually seeking knowledge about God, rather than seeking Him. But to those who come seeking God like little children, the parables reveal truth to them.
In Luke 15:11-13, Jesus said, “A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood. And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living.
Now we are not told the details of this family, except that there are two sons – one younger, one older – and they both have the same father. How many of you as a good parent would take everything that you have and give half of it to one of your two sons just because the son asked? So, the question is why would the father do this? I believe there is only one answer. It so blessed the father’s heart that this younger son knew who he was. He was neither a servant nor a slave. He was a true son and because of this identity, even though he was young, he knew that he was entitled to an inheritance. Because he had a sense of his true identity, this gave him the confidence to approach his father for his share of the inheritance now.
I wonder how often we do not receive what the Lord has set aside for us because we have not asked? Perhaps the reason we do not ask is because we think we are not entitled to ask. This relates to a sense of our identity in God. Are we are still functioning like an orphan, a slave or a servant? Are we doing everything out of a sense of duty and obligation? Do we dare go into the house, sit down with the father and eat with him or do we go to the servants’ quarters? Even though this younger son was immature, perhaps even arrogant and had wrong ideas about how to spend the inheritance, the father released the inheritance because it so blessed his heart that this son knew who he was. Church, we are the children of God. We do not need to be shy or lacking in confidence, neither do we need to be fearful. We need to boldly come to God with confidence in our hearts knowing who He has made us to be.
We can boldly say, “Father, if there is anything that you have for me, I want it now.” There are so many scriptures in the Bible about inheritance. No doubt much of our inheritance are stored up for us in heaven, but it begins here. Where is God and heaven right now? Here. Who are we right now? We are a new creation in Christ Jesus, born again by the Holy Spirit. We are the children of God. How great is the love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called the children of God! The destiny and the blessings of God are for us to administer to the world. What will stop us from receiving is by not asking. It is not just asking for ourselves, but for others. It is asking for nations, for tribes and people groups. It is because you know who you are in God that you can say, “Lord, I pray that you would release the fullness of the inheritance to me so that I can give it away.” You know that in order to obtain an inheritance, somebody has to die. But nobody has to die here because Jesus has already died for us.
In verse 13, we read that the younger son got together all that he had and set off to a distant country, leaving his father’s house, his father and his culture. In effect, he was breaking relationship. He wanted to go to a place where there was no accountability. How many of us often ask for God to bless us but we live our lives as if we are in a different country? We take the blessings of God on Sunday morning but during the week we go off to a ‘foreign land’ where the Holy Spirit is absent, where the eyes of God are not on us. How many of us live our lives segregated from God, only choosing when and where to visit Him? We think that church on Sunday mornings is where God shows up and we can come visit like it is a vacation spot. The rest of the week we live as if we are in a foreign country where nobody knows us, where there is no relationship and we can do what we want. This was what this young man did. He took his inheritance and went to a foreign land. He broke all relationships and squandered all his wealth in wild living.
Verse 14 reads, But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. But it was not the fact that he had nothing left that brought him to his knees. It was only when the famine came that he became aware of his needs. Very often we can maintain things that are not good or healthy for prolonged periods of time. It is not until some other ‘not so good thing’ is added to our lives that all of a sudden, we are in need. With this young man, it was the fact that added to his loss of wealth, there was now no food on the table. That was the turning point for him. It is always when we recognise our need that we reach a turning point in our lives. That is when we turn to the Lord. When we are confident and unaware of any need, we do not turn to God. It is the need that is often the tipping point in our lives. So, praise God for needs!