Is there a prodigal in your family? Or maybe you are a prodigal or have been one.
In the New Testament, Jesus taught with parables—earthly stories that illustrated deeper, spiritual truths. In those stories, He often spoke of His Father God’s great love for the lost. Jesus frequently used parables when contrasting the legalism of the scribes and Pharisees of that day and their harsh view of God. When those rulers criticized Jesus for associating with sinners, Jesus aimed parables like gentle arrows pointing toward His Father’s loving heart.
Parable of the Lost or Prodigal Son
Few parables in the New Testament express our heavenly Father’s care and love for the lost more dramatically than the story Jesus told of the Lost or Prodigal Son.
In this parable, the youngest of two sons decides to leave his father’s house and strike out on his own. He asks for an early inheritance (before his father’s death) and begins his journey. But the son exercises no wisdom, only foolishness. He blows his money on sinful pleasures and wild living. A famine sweeps away any remaining hope, so he ends up slopping hogs. He is so desperate, that even the pig scraps look appetizing.
Take a few moments to read the parable in Luke 15:11-32, especially the father’s response and actions.
Using Movie Clips to Illustrate Biblical Truths
For the second year in a row, our church has featured a special week, “At the Movies” at Lakepointe Church. Our pastor, Josh Howerton, leads this 4-week sermon series using clips of movies like parables to illustrate Biblical truths. While these particular weeks cannot be viewed in the archives like other messages, they are available to watch online live at our regular service times: Saturday, 6:00 PM, or Sunday, 9:30 and 11:00 AM. Two messages in this series still remain to watch live: July 31 and August 7. You can view them at lakepointe.live.
If you are not involved with your own church at any of those times, I encourage you to view the remaining two series—or to watch the regular services any other week. We’ve had viewers online around the world every Sunday.
A Father’s Heart for His Lost Son
The first “At the Movies” week this summer featured clips from the movie in 2012, “The Impossible.” This dramatic movie is based on the experience of María Belón and her family in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. (You can review the story online). A family is torn apart by the tsunami, and they are all trying to hold onto hope and find one another in horrendous circumstances. Sometimes believing the worst, they still press on to make the best of impossible situations, even helping others in the process.
While we heard multiple truths illustrated in the message, one stood out the most and brought tears to my eyes. As I watched the father, long separated from his family, locate his sons afar off and then run toward them, it was like viewing the parable of the Lost Son (or Prodigal) in the Bible. And I felt again the powerful, extravagant love of my heavenly Father who wants none to be lost, but for all to come to Him, to love Him, to be forgiven by Him, and to experience His life-changing grace.
Jesus wanted to show us what the Father’s love is like. And the parable of the Lost Son (Prodigal) demonstrates our faithful Father’s heart so well.
I heard a message years ago about why the father in the parable of the Prodigal could have run toward his son. In that culture, honor was an important virtue. With his foolish actions, the youngest son had already shamed his father. But the entire village felt disgraced as well. When they saw the guilty party, they could, in turn, shame that individual by breaking a jar or pot filled with seeds–possibly demonstrating how the prodigal’s seeds of shame had cut him off from his village and family.
The speaker in the message suggested that the father ran because of his faithful love for his son. He wanted to reach his wayward son before broken jars announced his son’s shameful past.
Do You Know a Prodigal? Are You a Prodigal?
Maybe there’s a prodigal in your past: a son, a daughter, a loved one, or maybe a friend. Perhaps that prodigal was you, and you can identify with the powerful Biblical parable Jesus told.
Or maybe that prodigal is still lost, wandering, and wondering if life will ever make sense again. That prodigal may be your child, or it could be you. It’s never too late. As long as there is breath in us and in the one who is lost, hope remains. And God our Father longs for the prodigal to return home—home to God’s unconditional love, home to His waiting arms, and home to His amazing grace. He wants to give that prodigal an eternal home and inheritance one day in heaven through His Son Jesus.
If a prodigal lives in your family or if you know one, this prayer might express the desire of your heart:
Prayer for a Prodigal
Lord, bring my/our prodigal home. Remove the blinders from his/her eyes so he can see his condition apart from you. Trace the lies he has believed, one by one, and write them on the billboard of his conscience. Help him catch a glimpse of truth and recognize that truth is You. Bind the enemy of deception, the one who has convinced him to exchange the security of Your love for unsatisfying, trivial pursuits. Change the desires in his heart for worldly pleasures, and lead him back to Your amazing grace.
Where rebellion and rejection reign, foster repentance and acceptance. If possible, place someone in his path who will confront him patiently but firmly. Strip away his defenses. Then close in the walls around him until he has no place to look but up and no place to go but back to Your waiting arms.
Remind Him of Your Forever, Faithful Love
If necessary, bring him to the end of himself in humility. Paint a picture of Your salvation freshly splayed on the Cross to remind him that his roots are in You. Let Him know that Your faithful love will last forever.
May the sinful shame he feels turn to godly sorrow that heals. May his tears form a pathway to You, clear and straight. Remind him that no sin is too great to be forgiven and that no pain is too deep to be healed. No life is too broken to be restored. Never give up on him, Lord.
Like a faithful Father, You wait with a robe in hand and a feast ready to prepare. Lord, may Your Spirit go before him, assuring him that he is already forgiven as You accompany him on his journey home. I pray he will not walk, but run to meet You.
Guard and Protect His Path
Hide him from doubting, prying eyes, those who wait to wave the seeds of shame in the face of my/our prodigal. Instead, station Your angel protection along the path, guarding my/our loved one back.
As long it takes, Lord, bring my/our prodigal home.
In the precious name of Jesus,
And if you are that prodigal son, daughter, or loved one, God is waiting for you to turn around and come home. He wants you as a permanent member of His family.
Want to know more about your faithful Father’s heart? Whether it’s encouragement, peace, hope, forgiveness, or comfort–whatever you need–your faithful heavenly Father longs for you to come to Him. You can find more about His incredible love and faithfulness and how He feels about you in Day-votions® with Your Faithful Father, 90 Days with the One Who Wants to Meet All Your Needs.
It’s Your Turn
Is there a prodigal in your family? Keep praying! Have you ever been a prodigal? What convinced you to return? You can always write me through my contact page. Just fill out the basic name and address info, and then the email will come to me. Your name or info will never be shared with anyone without your permission.
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