“Do you know the parable of the prodigal son?” I asked my roommate. We were both attending a college program this past summer and were in our room, talking before going to bed.
We had been having a conversation about different religions, and had ended up on the Christian faith. Being a Christian, I wanted to tell her about the amazing truth of God’s love.
She told me she didn’t know the parable, and I proceeded to explain it to her.
I’m not sure if it made any impact on her– she may have thought I was a little crazy for getting so excited while talking about it– but it’s still a great parable with a message I think a lot of people need to hear.
So today, I’d like to tell you about that parable and what about it that continues to amaze me about God.
You can read the parable for yourself if you click here or open your Bible to Luke 15:11-32, but I’ll summarize the story in my own words here.
Jesus begins the story by telling us about a man with two sons. The younger son asks for his inheritance early, and when his father gives it to him, he proceeds to leave home and spend it. He makes several poor choices, loses all of his money, and is reduced to desiring the food of animals because he is starving.
This son realizes he needs help and decides to go back home to his father. But he’s terrified. He knows he’s failed and likely believes himself to be an utter disappointment, and he fears what his father will say or do to him once he arrives back home. He is even prepared to tell his father, “I am no longer worthy to be called your son.”
When he arrives home, however, his father runs out to greet him, overjoyed that his son had finally returned home. He welcomes him back with open arms, and throws an entire celebration over his return, saying, “For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.”
The man’s older son, who had been with his father the whole time, wonders what all the excitement is about. Learning of his brother’s return, he is angry with his father for being so welcoming and kind to his brother when he had been working faithfully the entire time. His father speaks to him and says that it is fitting to celebrate his brother’s return, because he was lost before and had finally come back.
In this parable, the father represents God the Father, and the prodigal (or lost) son is one of His lost children coming home at last.
What I love so much about this parable is the look at God’s character it gives us. He’s waiting for those who are lost to come home, and He is ready to run out and welcome them in. He, the God of the universe, Creator of heaven and earth, is waiting for us to return to Him.
And that brings us to the message of the parable. For those of us who are believers and know Jesus, we must be careful not to become like the older son, unwilling to celebrate the return of the lost. People who come back to God are worth celebrating!
And for those who aren’t believers yet, this is for you.
Know that the same God who parted the Red Sea and led Israel to the promised land, the same God who has power over everything and knows your every thought and desire, the same God who created the mountains, valleys, seas, and skies…
He loves you.
In fact, He loves you so much He sent His Son to make a way for you to come back to Him. John 3:16 says,
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.John 3:16
He loves you, and you can come back home to Him because of Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross in your place.
It doesn’t matter how battered, bruised, or broken you are. It doesn’t matter how many mistakes you’ve made or what your past is like. It doesn’t matter if you think you’re not worthy of such a gift.
None of that matters– because God loves you. He knows you’re not worthy, He knows you’re a mess, but He still loves you.
The apostle Paul writes in Romans 8 about God’s love as well:
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.Romans 8:38-39
Nothing can separate you from this love, reader, so come home. You may be lost, but this is your opportunity to be found. All you have to do is accept this beautiful gift Jesus gave you, making a way back to God, and trust in Him.
I hope this article was encouraging to you in some way today. If you have any thoughts or comments, feel free to reach out to me via the contact page on this blog or in the comments here. And if you’d like to hear more from me, you can subscribe to my email list in the form at the bottom of this post.
Have a blessed rest of your day, and remember that God loves you.