Nov 11, 2020, 12:06 PM
In last week’s reflections, we considered two of Jesus’ parables which portrayed the proper behaviour worthy of a good leader. Jesus made the claim: “I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” (John 10:11) Jesus is the ideal shepherd who is ever willing and ready to risk His life for one lost soul, so that they may live the abundant life. (John 10:10)
Those parables clearly portrayed Jesus, and depicted what constituted His earthly mission. He had not come to condemn but to call all those who were weary and who needed rest. “Come to me, all you who are weary and are burdened and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11: 28) He had come to bring relief to all those whom the devil had oppressed and deprived of the love of the Father so that He would restore them to their rightful inheritance. The implication was that in going after one lost sheep and one lost coin, He had to leave behind the other ninety-nine sheep and the other nine silver coins that were in safe custody.
The third parable spoke of a man who had two sons. The younger one asked his father for his share of the inheritance and left on an adventure into the unknown world. It eventually turned sour. After he had squandered his fortune and realised his mistake, he resolved to head home and ask for his father’s forgiveness. The father welcomed his lost son back with open arms, but the eldest son resented his return and would not join in the celebrations. While this parable may look straightforward, it is awash with life-size lessons that should teach us about relationships.
Technically, the younger son had no business claiming his share of the inheritance while his father was still alive and active. His initiative reversed the trend. It smacked rather of an adventurous spirit that was soaked in apparent immaturity. The resultant frustration manifested the scale of his unpreparedness undertaking that venture.
That the father granted him his wish pointed to the fact that he envisaged the disastrous outcome. He would rather not interrupt the benefits or lessons the young man would have to learn firsthand for undertaking such an enterprise. The experience is pretty much the same as the wave of adventurers that have gone through ‘the back way’ unhindered by the daunting challenges that unfortunately cost some of them their lives. Those who survived the ordeals virtually did so by the skin of their teeth.
The story continues. After the young man collected his share of the inheritance he went to the city and there mingled with ‘spongers’ that helped him spend all his money in riotous living. After they had leeched their victim, they vanished. Hardly would a Jew tend pigs, but that was how far he had fallen. His status was so appalling that he considered eating pig food. Just as he hit rock bottom, he came to his senses and considered returning to his father’s house but this time in a lower capacity – as a servant.
He had done the worst and deep inside him he regretted his foolishness and repented. He took his courage in both hands to endure the consequences of his rash action. First, he said to himself; “I will arise and go to my father and will say to him, father I have sinned before you. And am no more worthy to be called your son: make me one of your hired servants.” (Luke 15:18-19) This would be the opening remarks of his rehearsed statement which he would address to his father upon meeting him.
This speech was never delivered completely. For “... while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” (Luke15:20) Only a loving father would have behaved in this manner. The Bible teaches that God is so merciful and full of compassion. “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are renewed every morning: great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23) God loves for us to come to Him with a repentant heart. For says He “... whoever comes to me, I will never drive away.” (John 6:37)
I know of many fathers who would not have entertained the return of their son the way the father in the parable did. Others would have openly reprimanded him. ‘Oh, you have come back. What brought you? Return from whence you came!’
In telling this parable our Lord Jesus is saying there is still room for the wayward child who is ready to repent. A Krio adage says: ‘There is no bad bush in which to throw away a child of ill repute.’
There is no one like our Father in heaven who is the main character in this parable. He summoned his team; “Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” (Luke 15:22-24) Isn’t that amazing! No scolding, not a word of rebuke.
One other notable feature. When the elder brother stepped in from the fields and heard all the loud music and festivity, he enquired from one of the servants what had warranted it. Learning of his ‘runaway’ brother’s return, he became very bitter to the extent that he refused to enter the house. He could not hide his disappointment with the father that after all the years of hard work he had put in, his father never celebrated him instead he chose to do so for this scoundrel.
The elder brother is not any different from the Pharisees who could not stomach Jesus’ compassion for the poor and weak. A marked difference between this third parable and the other two was that the father, God in this instance, did not have to force anyone to come to Him. He waits patiently until we have a change of heart and come to Him of our own volition.
This is the time; this is your moment to return to the Father while it is favourable. He is yearning and waiting to have you back.