The Prodigal Son and I; my take on Luke 15

Posted: August 20, 2011 in Christian
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The story of the Prodigal Son is one of those Sunday School lessons that I have been familiar with since childhood. However, until recently, I never really comprehended the very personal and powerful message that was waiting for me within.

We find the story of the Prodigal Son within the gospel of Luke. The fifteenth chapter of Luke opens with publicans and sinners gathering together in Galilee to learn from, and eat with Christ. Also attending this gathering of the faithful were the scribes and Pharisees that were essentially the Jewish religious police. These professional religionists were there not to learn from Him, but to try and find another opportunity to find fault with this very popular Rhabbi that people would travel a day or more to hear and to learn from, for we read here that the Pharisees were grumbling about Him eating with all these sinners.

I find it interesting that the gospels demonstrate that whenever Christ encounters sinners He is always kind and compassionate, but whenever we find Him pitted against the official religionists of the day, the Pharisees, the encounters often turn harsh and sometimes violent. It gives us an interesting insight to what Our Lord thought of the religious establishment and those that spent their lives attempting to follow the letter of the law and keeping a watchful eye on anyone that strayed from the legalism that keeping the letter of the law entraps us in.

Considering Christ’s attitude toward the legalists of the day, we find that Jesus reserves the entire chapter of Luke 15 to, once again, take advantage of the stiff necked and holier-than-thou attitude of the Pharisees to demonstrate to them and the crowd of followers that had gathered to hear Him speak, just how much the Pharisees had bastardized and debased the purpose of the Torah. Jesus did this by first giving common sense examples of acts of finding lost things, that anyone listening would agree with, and then using those thoughts as a basis of The Lord’s attitude of love and forgiveness toward all of us by telling a story of a son that was lost and had returned expecting anger and revulsion from his father, but unexpectedly receiving instead, his father’s happiness and joy to see his wayward son son return to him and his rightful place back within the family. He used this story to turn the Pharisees legalistic attitude toward the sinners back on them by using this story as a mirror. Of course, the story of the Prodigal Son is much more than that, it is also a practical demonstration that the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob, our God and Lord, is a God of second chances and a very forgiving and benevolent Lord.

OK, how does the story of the Prodigal Son apply to me? As an answer to this question, I feel compelled to give a quick testimony.

I was raised in a Christian household with loving parents. At the age of twelve I suffered non-familial sex abuse by an authority figure which I subsequently hid from everyone, as I was told I would be blamed for this heinous act. I felt, even at an early age, from being compelled to read the bible nightly, that the religion of my youth was very flawed in their doctrines and traditions much as the Church of Ephesus in Revelation chapter two (legalism over love and compassion) and therefore I didn’t feel I could turn to the church and I didn’t trust my parents either…I trusted no one. Not sharing the problem with those that cared was extremely stupid on my part, for as a result, I ended up plunging headlong into roller coaster existence of drugs and alcohol, depression and guilt. For the next three decades I sought answers in all the wrong places, blaming God for a period while dabbling in occult rituals, exploring Buddhism, multiculturalism and new age as well as spiritualism until being frightened to my core by the powers I was playing with and backing off from it all. Along the way, a cousin gave me some technical (read nerd and geek books) that used science and physics to prove the veracity of the scriptures. These really piqued my interest and caused me to start becoming interested in the bible.

I was still a drunk and a wreck and after countless attempts to stop drinking over a decade had failed, I didn’t know what to do or where to turn. At some point I noticed one of these books about the bible and creation, so after years of attempting to become sober on my own and of trying to throw off the chains of addiction, I decided to pray to this God that I hadn’t prayed to in a few decades. I threw it all at His feet and in desperation I prayed to my Lord and Savior on January 15, 2010 and He rescued and healed me then and there.

Even after that miracle, I couldn’t understand why He would do that…this was the first time I had a seriously positive interaction from any god I had prayed to in my life. I still couldn’t believe I qualified for HIS grace and mercy (it took me a bit longer to understand I don’t qualify for His grace…no one does…that is why it is called grace). I suffered through several weeks of doubt and confusion as to why He would actually accept me after all the debasing, harassing, laughter toward and hatred I had shown toward Him and His followers over the decades until one night while praying, the Holy Spirit reminded me of the childhood story of the Prodigal Son. I found this Sunday School parable in the book of Luke, and after reading this poignant and powerful story the realization came to me that I was the terribly unappreciative son that was given a second chance and I could actually believe the story was written for even a clown like me. The story of the Prodigal Son was one of my saving graces and I still remind myself of this marvelous story and the wonderfully gracious and forgiving God that we have.

God Bless, Jim

8-18-11 (10-9-19)

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