Perhaps the deepest and richest of Jesus’ parables is the one that starts off “A certain man had two sons…”. We commonly call this the parable of “The Prodigal Son”, but as you can see, the story is really about the father. There is so much to learn from this parable – I think we could read it our whole lives and never fully grasp its depth. But for this post, I want to concentrate on just one phrase the father speaks, almost at the end of the story. Andrew Peterson used this in one of his posts a couple weeks ago, and it has been rolling around in my mind ever since.
On The Outside Looking In
The scene is poignant and laden with emotion; the prodigal has returned and been embraced and forgiven by the father. The self-righteous older brother sees that his father has accepted the rebel with open arms, and that a celebration feast is going on inside. The older brother – angry and resentful – stands outside on the porch, refusing to come into the house and rejoice with the others. And so, amazingly, the father comes out and pleads with his son to come in and celebrate:
But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’
– Luke 15:28-32
God So Loved, He Gave
When I dwell on the reality that my Father has opened His hands and said to me “all that I have is yours“, it really awakens a sense of gratitude and appreciation in me that is too often missing. How much of my life has been spent believing that He is holding something back! As if only I could be more pleasing to Him, then maybe He would grant me more blessings! How sad and misguided we are when we see Him as a begrudging master, dribbling out crumbs and scraps to us dogs. His heart overflows with love toward us, sharing everything He has and is with us – and the preeminent thing He shares with us is Himself. But we reject the relationship and refuse to enter into the family feast, focusing instead on the things we don’t have that don’t ultimately matter anyway. We’d rather stand outside The Door, focused on our own self-righteousness, than enter into restored relationship.
The Original Lie
This is the same lie that Satan told Eve in the garden – “Did God really say…? You will not surely die… God knows your eyes will be opened…” We buy into the lie that God is withholding from us what we need to make us happy, or fulfilled, or content, or rich, or wise, etc. Let’s not keep falling for the original lie. Let us embrace our Father and receive all that He has to give, with open hands and open hearts. Let us enter in to that feast!
And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
– Phillippians 4:19