Summary: The parable of the Prodigal Son
Simeon Ford, the proprietor of the Old Grand Union Hotel in New York, once said, “You don’t need to know anything about a hotel to run one,” he said. “You just open up and the customers tell you how to run it.” Isn’t that the truth. Everyone is a critic. You would think that with Jesus Himself on the earth, that noone would complain about Him healing people and preaching the good news of salvation. Yet He Himself had to undergo criticism. Jesus was always being second guessed by his disciples and his enemies alike who just didn’t understand why he did what he did. Such was the case today -
1 Now the tax collectors and “sinners” were all gathering around to hear him. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
The self righteous Pharisees and teachers of the law didn’t like the idea that Jesus was eating with well known sinners and tax collectors. These were most likely fellow Jews who had been known for “sowing their seeds” - so to speak. Many tax collectors made themselves rich by overcharging their fellow Jews. You could almost imagine then, these Pharisees and tax collectors keeping their distance from this filthy crowd, yet staying close enough to “murmur” and let everyone see their disapproval.
It’s kind of neat how Jesus then approaches the situation. Instead of just telling them why he was eating with these people who were well known “sinners”, he explains himself with a parable. This way, the Pharisees could put on Jesus’ shoes and see behind the lives of the “sinners” to hopefully better understand the situation.
3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 11 “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
Scripture is full of warnings for the youth - Paul told Timothy to flee the evil desires of youth. You usually don’t see people in their seventies going down to the Padre Islands or Fort Lauderdale for Spring Break. Why? Age has a way of mellowing people out. But when you’re young, you’ve got hormones and inexperience pillaging through your body like a runaway freight train. Such was the case with the “younger one.” You could imagine him saying to his father, “I want to get out and experience life! I’m tired of living such a sheltered lifestyle! I only have one chance to live - and I want to live it NOW while I can enjoy it!” So notice what he says, “GIVE me my share of the estate.” This is an urgent plea - one that says, “I need it now! I can’t wait!”
Boy, that’s a dangerous situation - when you have a young kid who is so eager to grow up! So eager to date - to get a car - to have sex - to experience life! I can remember those feelings of eagerness that I had in the first week of college! Finally, I was out of the house! In my first week of college someone rented the movie “Animal House” and we all went downstairs and watched it. We thought, “this college life is going to be great!” The next day the dean of students called us all together and said, “this is NOT going to be some kind of Animal House!”
But do you notice what the father’s reaction was to his son? Maybe there’s nothing to this - but I believe there is - he says NOTHING. All he did was “divided his property between them.” Why didn’t he say something? There’s a saying that I like to use - “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” The father had brought the child up - trying to teach him right from wrong. But by this time, the lecturing was over. The boy had made up his mind. It was now time for him to go to the school of hard knocks.
It’s frustrating to parents, but what can you do? While the children live under your roof - you can lay down the rules. You can teach them right from wrong. If they honored you like they should, they would listen and obey. But finally, some kids need to experience it to find out their parents weren’t so dumb.
Before you get too frustrated with other people, think of how frustrated God must get with us. God - the one who designed us and the world - who has an eternity of experience - tells us how to give, how to raise our children - how to care for our souls. Sometimes he even explains why - but even after we grow up WE still second guess his decisions. God says, “don’t worry,” but we toss and turn at night. He says, “take it to the Lord in prayer,” but instead, we go straight to bed at night without even saying “now I lay me down to sleep.” You could almost see God up in heaven shaking his head and saying, “what else can I do?”