Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them! (Luke 15:1-2)
Aren’t we making our way home?
The setting sees certain religious observers critiquing Jesus for the people that He hung around with. Jesus then launches into three stories that address the attitude of the observers. Two of the stories have to do with the lost things. The third story, however, is very intriguing and challenging.
It’s referred to as the story of the Prodigal Son with the focus on the son who asked for his stuff and left home. Then others have suggested that the real prodigal is the father for allowing his runaway son to return home to a lavish banquet. Then some focus on the older son and his resentment at the treatment of the runaway as well as his grievance at never getting anything like this from his Dad.
Familiar story in a lot of ways and to some a straightforward message.
This is not the place to dispute that thinking.
What I do think about, though is about the two sons. Are they both lost? The runaway son is considered as good as lost and even in his return he is lost in his identity feeling unworthy of being called son. The stay-at-home son, however, isn’t he lost? Lost in a fog of never understanding what it was to be a son. Both lost in a confused sense of identity, not knowing what it was to be a son and not knowing the heart of their father.
Indeed it’s perhaps it’s because they didn’t know the heart of the father, that they stumbled when it came to their own identity as sons.
It makes me wonder, can we ever know who we are as children if we don’t refer back to our father? If we don’t refer back to the father won’t they leave us all lost?
Focus on the Father will help us to appreciate who He is and who we are in the light of who He is. Not just who we are in terms of us in our safe holy huddles, but who we are as we engage with tax collectors and notorious sinners.
Otherwise, we’re just lost and may never find our way home.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden