Summary: We actually have three stories being told here. Three stories. One parable. One big truth and here it is. Lost things matter to God. As a result, God spends a great deal of time looking for his people.
"Finding Our Way Home"
While living in Kentucky a good friend of mine and I drove all the way to Detroit to see a baseball game. I had never been to the old Tiger’s stadium and they were playing my favorite team so we made the trek. I took my car and getting to Detroit was not a problem but inside the city I didn’t know my way around at all. It had been years since he had been there and he did not realize how much it had changed. Making our way to the stadium I realized that we had gotten into a bad area. He realized it and told me that we were in an area that was dangerous. That we needed to be careful and the best thing for us to do was to find a way out. People were staring at us….I felt like I was in a another country… we dared not stop and ask for directions….eventually we made our way through that area and got on the right path to get to the stadium.
We actually have three stories being told here. Three stories. One parable. One big truth and here it is.
Lost things matter to God. As a result,
God spends a great deal of time looking for his people.
To really understand this story you have to notice the first couple of verses. Verses 1-2. If you look closely, there is tension in these verses. There were many titles given to Jesus while he was here on earth. The door, the light of the world, the Alpha and Omega but in this passage we see him clearly as the one who is a friend of sinners. The Pharisees and the teachers of the law said this as an insult. Jesus probably saw it otherwise.
In the first story a farmer has 100 sheep and one gets lost. Jesus shows us how the Shepherd leaves the 99 and goes on a search and rescue mission for the one. In the second story a widow loses one of her coins and then turns the house upside down to find it. And when the lost son returns home, the father throws a big party. There are many things we could point out about these three stories but there’s really one common thread.
Whenever the lost are found, the father rejoices.
In verse six the farmer calls his friends together and he says “rejoice with me, I have found my lost lamb.” In verse nine the widow says “rejoice with me, I have found my lost coin. And when the lost son returns home the father throws a party and again they all rejoice.”
Verse 7. Let’s focus on the younger son. Look at verses 11-12. He wants his inheritance and he wants it while his father is still alive. In the day of Jesus, in the Middle East, this is the same as saying “dad, I’m eager for you to die.” Normally in this situation a father would kick his son out of the house for making such a request. But instead the father gives it to him. He takes the money, leaves home and goes to a place the Bible refers to as a distant country. And there he spends his money down to the last cent. A famine comes in so not having any cash, he finds work. And the only thing he can find is to feed/slop the hogs. Not a great job for a man who was Jewish.
So how did he get to this place? How do you move from a life of luxury to living in a pigpen? Well actually it’s not as difficult as it may sound. But I do see five wrong steps that he had taken.
(1) He was selfish. This fall actually began with one single act. He said I want my money I want it now. He had $ signs in his eyes. It was like... Show me the money and I am out of here.
(2) He acted too quickly. Scripture says that when he got his money took off for distant country. We hear that phrase we shouldn’t think of somewhere thousands of miles away. Because the far country is really just one step out of God’s will. One step and trouble happens. It’s not a matter of geography. It’s a relationship problem.
(3) He wanted everything. We’ve always translated the word prodigal as wayward word or lost. Many families have one individual they describe in this way... He/she is the prodigal-the one who has gone astray and has rebelled. We call them the lost child. But that’s not what it means. We use it as a noun to describe someone who is lost. A prodigal. But the dictionary defines prodigal as an adjective. Someone who is reckless. Extravagant. Spending everything they have. It doesn’t mean lost. It does mean extravagant.