REPOST Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, provided by Jabez Yeo who formerly served at Remnant Church in Manhattan, was first posted on August 12, 2014. Jabez is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania (BS) and Columbia International University (MA, Muslim Studies).
Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend
“The True Meaning of the Parable of the Prodigal Son”
Luke 15:25-32 (ESV)
“Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things could be. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him. 29 But he answered and said to his father, ‘Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends; 30 but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.’”
While preaching on the Prodigal Son, most pastors focus on the father’s unconditional love…and for good reason! The parable provides a vivid imagery of God’s forgiving love. In fact, a certain AMI pastor’s sermon on this parable during a college retreat was used as God’s instrument to convict me to rededicate my life to Christ.
However, looking at the context of Luke 15, God’s unconditional love, while very important, might not be the main focus. In chapter 15, we see the Pharisees chastising Jesus for hanging around sinners. In response, Jesus gives two short parables that detail the joy believers should feel over a sinner’s repentance before giving the parable of the Prodigal Son. Thus, it seems that the joyous reaction to repentance is the focus of this parable as well.
At first glance, it is easy for us to criticize the older son. How can he be so selfish when his brother has just come back? However, for those of us who faithfully serve the church, we might be closer in heart to the elder son than we think. How many of us feel a tinge of envy over attention given to a new child of Christ? Or when someone’s vivid testimony of life before Christ gets recognized repeatedly? These questions may sound stupid but I know that such covetous thoughts have crossed my mind before.
While human attention is just one of many things that we crave, we can find our gentle rebuke in the remainder of the parable. In verse 31, the father assures the son that he has always been with him and all the father has is his. In the book of Ephesians, Paul also writes that God chose us in Him before the creation of the world (Eph. 1:4) and that we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Eph. 1:3). Since this is our reality, let’s put aside any selfish thoughts that we may have and rest only in God’s provision for us. And of course, let’s rejoice over what God is doing in our churches for His kingdom!
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You that in You, I have all that I need. I’m sorry for coveting what others have in different areas of my life. Help me to be thankful for what You have given me and also how You are moving in others’ lives. Teach me to be content and to rest in You only. In Your Name I pray, Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 54-55