Jesus told many parables, but arguably one of the most poignant and popular is the story of the Prodigal Son. The story has been the topic of countless sermons and books, including Henri Nouwen’s excellent exposition in “The Return of the Prodigal Son”.
The parable reflects the depth of Jesus’ mastery of the human heart and neatly encapsulates the pros and cons of living a life “by the book”. (Or not, in the case of the Prodigal!) Each path has its own pitfalls; the “rule follower” risks descending into condescension and pride, while the “rule breaker” suffers from his/her own lack of discipline. It takes the heart of a loving and grace-filled Father to redeem them both.
Each of us has experience with this; sometimes we play the role of the Prodigal, and sometimes the angry older brother. Either way, we need the grace and love of Jesus to bring us out of the ditch(es) we’ve fallen into.
As we approach the end of the Lenten season, this parable of Jesus gives us a chance to renew our dependence on God’s grace, and remember that we were, and to some extent still are, a Prodigal. It also sets the stage for the upcoming emphasis on “Joining Jesus on His Mission” as we focus anew on how we can share Jesus’ grace with a neighbor.
That’s why reminding ourselves every day that we need Jesus is so important. Please take advantage of our daily Lenten devotional videos, and come together with your church community each week to get reinforcement. Use this Lenten season of repentance and contemplation to deepen your relationship and sharpen your focus on what really matters.