An aspect of the prodigal story that has received little attention is the feast the father is going to have for his returning son.
The feast in the times of Jesus was a wonderful event, a symbolic event that meant a time of joy and celebration.
The father wants both sons at the feast. One son has been welcomed to the feast by hugs and kisses.
The other has been welcomed to the feast with calm words. After the older son had a temper tantrum, the father did not have to talk to him as he did, but he said “My son…you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”
Again, this society was patriarchal. The father is the ruler of the family but this father uses gentle words of explanation to help the older son understand.
To sum up, Pastor Idleman’s book has been about change and the younger son, the older son and the father are in the midst of change. The younger son has learned that satisfying his senses is not the way to peace as he has torn through his inheritance in the pursuit of wine, women and song. The older son has learned that the strict, ethical way to God will not work as the “Pharisee way” of harsh judgment does not seem to apply in every case. The father is showing a daring love for this son, a different love that is based on an understanding of human nature and a forgiving love of Jesus Christ.
As we celebrate Easter, is this change of heart what we really seek? As we wonder what to do to Awaken ourselves to our shortcomings, as we seek to be Honest about the persons we really are, as we take Action to correct our sins of the past, aren’t you inspired by Jesus ‘s sacrifice? Don’t we all see that His sacrifice leads to our salvation? Don’t we see that our sacrifice can lead to our salvation also?
The feast is a new beginning, one we all need to attend. It is accepting a God that is fresh and new. Idleman says “We expect God to be an angry father who demands justice, but through Jesus, He gives us love and grace when we don’t deserve it. Ultimately, the story of Luke 15 isn’t about two sons who disobey. It is about a Father who loves His children unconditionally.”
Pastor Tim Keller in his book “The Prodigal God” talks about change: “You cannot change such things through mere will-power, through learning Biblical principles and trying to carry them out. We can only change permanently as we take the gospel more deeply into our understanding and into our heart. We must feed on the gospel, as it were, digesting it and make it part of ourselves. That is how we grow.”
The feast is a celebration for the returning son, the son who stayed home and the father who is showing his family a new way.
Let’s celebrate with this family, let’s go forward and continue to feast on the ideas of Jesus Christ. Let’s continue to study through “St. John Studies”….
This will be the last post on AHA.
Before I finish this last post, let me take the liberty to write that this experiment in blogging for St. John Studies has been good for me. I pray it has been good for you.
We will continue Monday April 6 with a new book; God Knows Your Love Language by Dr. Gary Chapman.