I have an embarrassing confession. I misunderstood the meaning of prodigal…as in the parable of the prodigal son. Now I get it and want the same quality. My understanding was of a son that wandered…skipped school, lied, into drugs and in trouble with the police. Uncontrollable. Rebellious. A heartache to mom and dad. I would hear statements like, “Oh – their oldest son is a prodigal,” meaning he was defiant and unmanageable, perpetually in trouble. For me, that definition fit the behavior of the younger son in Jesus’ parable in Luke 15.
I was wrong. Prodigal is an adverb meaning to give extravagantly, to spend lavishly. with abandon. We can do this wisely or we can do it foolishly and recklessly. The prodigal son choose to spend his inheritance extravagantly, but in his undiscipline he wasted everything he had. Probably on lots of bad women and good wine. Jesus says the young man “spent everything” and did it recklessly (Luke 15:14).
But there is another prodigal person in the parable – a prodigal father. What if the focus of this parable is not on the wasteful extravagance of the son, but on the prodigality of the father? If this is true, I love what David Benner writes is his book, Surrender to Love, “It reminds me that far from focusing on my sins, God sees me through the eyes of love. All my fears about how God will respond to me in my sin wash away as I see the Father running to meet me.”
Several years ago I had preached an entire Sunday morning sermon on the gospel truth that God will NEVER punish a believer for their sin. If God still punishes us for our sin, then the cross did not work…or only partially worked for some sins. After the second service as Sue and I were walking out to our car, in front of us was a couple busy roasting the preacher…not aware that I was right behind them able to hear every word. Their summary was, “If God doesn’t punish us for our sin, we will never obey.” How sad. They had grown comfortable fearing an angry God that still punishes.
The reality is we have a prodigal Father that is running to us – extravagantly and lavishly loving us.
Let’s get this good news of the gospel on the move. Share this with with your social media friends.