Jesus loved finding lost things, be it sheep or coins or even sons. (Luke 15:1-32) He always had a soft spot in his heart for those who had gotten a little turned around in their lives, which is a beautiful thing since all of us find ourselves in that position from time to time. The problem is that sometimes it’s hard to identify the ones who are actually lost. Oh, maybe not in terms of sheep and coins, those are fairly obvious, but when it comes to sons it’s an altogether different story. In fact, the hardest ones to find are the ones who don’t think they are lost at all.
The younger son ventures off
into a foreign land with his pockets full of inheritance money and his heart
set on squandering it all on wild living.
But eventually it all catches up with him and he comes to his senses,
finding his way back to the father’s house where he is greeted with hugs and
kisses, as well as shoes and a ring and a feast. Yet he is not the lost son; he is actually the
found one. There’s another son in the
story who is in desperate need of being found, only he doesn’t know it.
The lost son is the one who
is still in his father’s house, yet still so far from away from experiencing his
father’s love and affection. Just listen
to what he says: “Look! All these years
I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders.” Does that sound like someone who knows he is
loved, or like someone who is trying desperately to earn something he’s always
had? To me it sounds like someone who is
working his ass off to try and win the approval and affection of a father who
knows him better and loves him more fully than he could ever ask or imagine.
The younger brother returns
home and is able to experience that love firsthand, but what about the older
one? He has been at home all along, but has
somehow missed the unconditional love and affection the father was continually offering
him. What would it look like for him to return
to the father?
We are not really told how
the story ends for the older brother, which is probably intentional. It is an open invitation. Each of us is invited into the story to make
that decision for ourselves. What does
returning to the Father look like for you today? Will you return to him?