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The Loving Father

06 Mar

160306Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So he told them this parable:  “There was a man who had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.” ’ So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate. “Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’ Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’ Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’” (Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32, NRSV)

I love this chapter of Luke. It is probably one of my favorite collection of stories in the Bible.

But the title we learned this story by is not correct in my understanding.

This part of Luke 15 is probably known to most as the story of the prodigal son. Prodigal for the way he spends his money. Foolishly wasting it on life.

But is this story about the son?

If it were about the son, wouldn’t Jesus have started the story with, “There was a young man who had an older brother, and a father whom he thought was dead!”

But that isn’t it. The story begins by Jesus saying, “There was a man who had two sons.”

People like to say this chapter is about repentance, which there is a line of repentance that runs through the story here, but that is not what the chapter is about. The 2 stories before this one are the story of the lost sheep and the lost coin. If it is about repentance, how does a sheep repent? How does a coin repent?

This chapter is about God and the Father, who does a Marlin and goes across the ocean to find His son, not worrying about societal norms or what others will say, but showing love for a son, and going to the ends of the world to find him.

That is the love God has for each of us.

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4 responses to “The Loving Father

  1. kwallyz

    2016/03/06 at 08:24

    “does a Marlin”? What does that mean; or since I can infer what it means, but what does it refer to?

     
    • asacredrebel

      2016/03/06 at 08:27

      I read that this morning and thought, “some might not get this…” it refers to Marlin the father in Finding Nemo. A Pixar movie about a father who swims across the ocean to find his son risking his own life in the process.

      That is what God does for each of us.

       
      • kwallyz

        2016/03/06 at 08:34

        Ah! Thank you, I saw that movie, but it was a long time ago, when our kids were young.

         
  2. kwallyz

    2016/03/06 at 08:26

    Good insight on focusing on how the parable begins as a clue to the meaning and putting it in the context of the entire chapter. I look forward to hearing your sermon on this today.

     

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