Consequential: Devotional Commentary for November 17-23
This is the Word of God. May the Spirit of Truth give us Wisdom and Insight to receive what has been conveyed through His Word by His Inspiration.
This is the story of the prodigal son, his forgiving father, and his judgmental elder brother. This is how the story begins as Jesus told it in Luke 15:11-16.
11Then Jesus said, “A man had two sons.
12The younger son said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the property.’ So the father divided his property between his two sons."
13“After a few days, the younger son gathered his possessions and left for a country far away from home. There he wasted everything he had on a wild lifestyle."
14"He had nothing left when a severe famine spread throughout that country. He had nothing to live on."
15"So he got a job from someone in that country and was sent to feed pigs in the fields."
16"No one in the country would give him any food, and he was so hungry that he would have eaten what the pigs were eating."
Jesus continued to respond to the Pharisees' accusations of His association with the downtrodden and tax collectors. He told them a parable of a father who had two sons. In the process of time, the younger of the two demanded that his father would give him his share of the inheritance that would come to him out of the entire family estate. The father obliged. He divided his fortune between his two sons and gave the younger son his share.
As soon as he received his inheritance, the younger son decided to test life away from his father’s care and immediate supervision. Money in hand and fortune at his fingertips, the younger son took a trip to a distant country far away from home and his father’s influence. There, he exhausted his resources in a debauched lifestyle that was completely contrary to his upbringing. He lived an unruly life that was guided by his raw impulses, feeling assured by the enormity of his fortune instead of good judgment and sound reasoning which, apparently, he did not have.
The consequence of this young man’s irresponsible conduct finally caught up with him. A severe famine plagued the land after he had already wasted his inheritance. He was so impoverished that he was unable to provide for himself even the basic necessities for minimal subsistence. Once affluent, the extravagant young man now faced utter destitution. He had nothing to eat! He was completely deprived!
Once a self-sufficient young magnate now poverty-stricken, the desperate, beggarly, and down-and-out destitute sought and found employment as a hired help on a pig farm. He was sent to a farm to feed pigs. The young man could never have imagined such a predicament to rain on his parade. Raised in splendor and magnificent glamor, he probably thought that his money would never run out. However, his unruly conduct conveyed him to an unbridled extravagance which ruthlessly drove him into a state of utter poverty.
Displaced from his place of birth and comfort by his own corrupt choices, the young man became a stranger and a helpless pauper in a land that was not his own. Forced by a self-inflicted desperation, he had to survive by selling himself to the meanest and most contemptible job of feeding swine. Apparently, feeding pigs did not earn the young man sufficient income to sustain himself. He was always hungry, and no one would sympathize with his situation. He fed pigs, but no one would feed him. He took care of pigs, but no one would give him even minimal attention. He was so desperate that he yearned to eat the crumbs that the pigs dropped. Even that was scarce. He was thoroughly humiliated and utterly ruined.
Deceived by the abundance of money and temporal wealth, and, consumed by the sinful urges of rebellious indulgence, the young man wallowed, frolicked, and luxuriated in temporal pleasure with unrestrained extravagance and unchecked discretion. He appeased himself and got what he wanted, at the expense of life and security with his father.
The young man was motivated by a destructive passion:
- He knew his rights, but not his privileges.
- He knew his ways, but not the Way.
- He knew what he wanted, but not what he needed.
Fueled by the love of money and hollow confidence in his material affluence, his selfish impulses drove him to the depths of devastating dejection. Ultimately, he became so impoverished and suffered intense hunger pains that he wished he could dine with pigs. Blinded by the love of money, the young man was unable to discern the destructive ways of his lifestyle until it was too late.
He was completely obsessed with the promises of his newly found fortune. But he ended up with pigs. Deceived by the temporary promise of money in hand, the young man walked right out of fortune and slipped into utter indigence, now wishing to eat with the pigs he tended.
In Luke chapter fifteen verses one through three, the Pharisees griped against Jesus for His association with men and women whom they considered unworthy, vile, and despicable. These are tax collectors, cohorts of the Roman colonial administration, and, people of any class or social status deemed by the Pharisees unworthy of the attention of the elite, because they appeared unkempt, and disorderly ragtag populous.
Jesus spoke to the Pharisees through three illustrative parables explaining His reason for His association with sinners:
Unlike the lost sheep and the missing coin, the prodigal son and his brother in this parable are not mere possessions. They are their parents' children. They are their parents' flesh and blood. They have an indisputable and indestructible bond. While the first two parables underscore the common human reaction to lost possessions, the third parable is more profoundly significant in that it depicts God's enduring Mercy, His abiding Love, and sovereign Grace. This is the story of the prodigal son, and in many ways, our own story!
The story of the prodigal son is arguably one of the most widely known biblical anecdotes often used to underscore remorse, forgiveness, reconciliation, and restoration. However, the emphatic attention given to these noble precepts significantly diminishes the lesson one must learn from the bitter cause that led to the regrettable experience. Jesus effectively told the Pharisees to pay more attention to the dire spiritual condition of their own heart instead of concerning themselves with His associations and passing judgment upon others.
We should not be too hard on this young man. All else being equal, one wonders if any of us would have made a better or a more godly choice! This could be any one of us operating under the alluring influences of our sin-nature. Oh! We won't call it sin. We would just consider it something we wanted or we have earned. We might even get the notion that it could be possibly God's blessing to which we are entitled!
But the truth is, we often wander away from our heavenly Father. We have conducted ourselves in a manner which often moves us farther away from our Father's immediate presence and His direct influence upon our unruly hearts. To be sure, we can never move God away from us. However, our sense of His immediate presence and direct influence are often distorted as we continue to pursue our godless passions. Then, without any constraints, we indulge in every one of our fantasies, slipping into spiritual destitution. This is not simply a picture of the circumstances around us. It is the reflection of the depravity of our souls.
We know the Creator. We call Him our Redeemer and our Father. We know He hates sin. Yet, we choose to avoid Him and embrace the passionate urges of our natural inclinations. Then, when our world falls apart, when there are no more illusions, we cry out for help and God answers with His sovereign Grace.
For those who have been given God's salvation by His Grace, this is not the end of the story. However, the story of the unruly young man is an accurate representation of the true condition of our hearts when left to its own sinful ways. We were once God's lost possessions. But He redeemed us by buying us back out of His just judgment and setting us forever free from slavery and bondage to sin with the precious Blood of His Holy and Righteous Son. He clothed us with the Righteousness of Jesus Christ and made Himself at Peace with us. We are made joint-heirs of the heavenly riches with our Savior Jesus Christ. How is it then, we continue to seek satisfaction and fulfillment in the ungodly ways of our unruly heart? How is it then, we easily and quickly forget our own depravity and condemn others?
Our ways lead to destitution and unfulfilling parties with pigs. But the Way of the Lord leads to life eternal and unfathomable heavenly riches. There is nothing to miss in the world we left behind. All the riches of heaven are ours in Jesus Christ. There is Joy, Peace, Satisfaction, and Rest even while we are here on earth as His children and as His servants. There is nothing to gain away from God because there is nothing away from Him.