Summary: The prodigal’s father was not only warm and welcoming but waiting for him to come home.
The father of the prodigal Luke 15:11-32
A candidate for church membership was asked by the committee, “What part of the Bible, do you like the best?” He said, “I like the New Testament.” Then he was asked, “What Book in the New Testament is your favorite?” He answered, the Book of the Parables.” Then they asked him to relate one of the parables to the membership committee.
And a bit uncertain, he began… “Once upon a time a man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves; and the thorns grew up and choked him. And he went on and met the Queen of Sheba, and she gave that man, a thousand talents of silver, and a hundred changes of raiment. And he got in his chariot and drove furiously, and as he was driving along under a big tree, his hair got caught in a limb and left him hanging here! And he hung there many days and many nights. The ravens brought him food to eat and water to drink. And one night while he was hanging there asleep, his wife Delilah came along and cut off his hair, and he fell on stony ground. And it began to rain, and it rained forty days and forty nights. And he hid himself in a cave. Later he went on and met a man who said, “Come in and take supper with me.” But he said, “I can’t come in, for I have married a wife.” And the man went out into the highways and hedges and compelled him to come in! Then he came to Jerusalem, and saw Queen Jezebel sitting high and lifted up in a window of the wall. When she saw him she laughed, and he said, “Throw her down out of there,” and they threw her down. And he said “Throw her down again,” and they threw her down seventy-times-seven. And the fragments which they picked up filled twelve baskets full! NOW, whose wife will she be in the day of the Judgment?” And the membership committee looked at each other and they all agreed that this was indeed a very knowledgeable candidate!
Now, rather than be as confused as this guy was let’s go back and understand what’s going on here. Jesus was using three parables to communicate who God is and what He wants from every individual who was ever born. The word “parable" means “likeness" and a parable is a comparison of two objects for the purpose of teaching. In other words, you can understand something complex by relating it to something simple because there is a comparison between the two. It would be like me taking a quarter and saying, “When you look at this you can understand the shape of the moon.” Now, the quarter doesn’t tell you anything about the moon and it certainly doesn’t hang in space but you can understand the overall shape of the moon by simply looking at a quarter.
And although Jesus didn’t invent speaking in parables, it’s significant that He is the only one who uses them in the New Testament. At one time in His ministry, it was the only way He taught when He was speaking to the crowds.
So, the obvious question is, why did Jesus speak in “parables"? Although many in the church at large believe that He did this in order to make His points clear, the opposite is actually true and Jesus said so in Matthew 13:11-16 where it says, “And the disciples came, and said unto Him, why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, by hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: for this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.” So, bottom line is, the parables were meant to explain truth to the believers while hiding it from the unbelievers.
And the purpose of these parables was to help believers to understand who God is and what his kingdom is all about. And we notice that Jesus uses images and characters that were taken from everyday life to illustrate His messages and this was His most common way of teaching. His stories appealed to the young and the old, the rich and the poor as well as to the smart and to those who weren’t so smart.