I love the parable Jesus tells in Luke 15 of the prodigal son. I believe Jesus had specific lessons in each of the parables, but also that there are multiple lessons, or deeper lessons as well that you may not notice at first. The parable of the prodigal son is one of my favorite stories in the scriptures because of this reason. If you don't know the story, go here to read it:
For me, there is a three step depth to the gravity of God's love for us in this parable.
1. Forgiveness - The glaring lesson from this parable is forgiveness. When the father has compassion for the younger son and celebrates his return, he has forgiven his son. There are a few points to bring to light that better help explain just how forgiving the father is. One is that when the son asks for his inheritance, he is basically telling his father "you are dead to me." It's not simply taking his fathers money and wasting it, then seeking forgiveness. It's a matter of telling his father "I love your money far more than I love you. I would be happier if you were dead, and I got my portion of your wealth." Another point not to miss in this story is the fattened calf. A sacrifice, a death. The FATHER, making a sacrifice for the child. Sound familiar? (Jesus).
2. Ownership - Many scholars believe that this parable is more about the older son. His reaction to the father's love for the younger son is justifiable, no? He has a point right? The depth of the father's love is shown when he replies to his eldest "Everything I have is yours." Sometimes us "lifer" Christians say that to God don't we? "Haven't I been with you this whole time God?" "Why are my meth-head neighbors down the street pregnant again, while I am still unable to conceive?" "How can you let so many evil people live healthy while I suffer with this cancer?" "Haven't I been with you this whole time?" How quickly we think God owes us something for accepting His grace and mercy, while failing to see that everything He has is ours. (See Galatians 3)
3. Freedom - This is the kicker for me. Not until recently did I catch this. When I heard this it was like the wool being pulled from over my eyes. The father shows his love to the younger (prodigal) son by financing his trip. Take a moment and let that sink in for a while...
WOW, right?!? The father, being told "I'd rather you be dead", didn't have to give the son his inheritance. Wouldn't you be at least tempted to tell you ungrateful son where to shove it? But he doesn't. If the father didn't know for sure his son was going to waste everything, he probably at least had a pretty good assumption. Yet he chose to give the inheritance anyway. He financed the trip! Was he crazy?
At least to our limited knowledge of how God's love works, we'd think this would be crazy. But God's love is not something we can fully understand. It's too big for us. It's more powerful then we could ever imagine or comprehend and it's our inheritance, everyone of us, if we choose to accept it in Jesus Christ. Who loves us enough to finance our trips too.
What trip are you on that God is financing? What gifts has he given you that you are using selfishly? Destructively? Irresponsibly? What wealth has He provided that you are wasting? Makes me take a step back and re-examine how I use what I've been so graciously given.
takeoffthewaterwings, jump in the deep end, and learn how to swim.