We've learned the book of Acts over the last few months. From now on, I want to take a look at the parable of Jesus in the Gospels. From the parables, I hope that we will hear what the Lord speaks to us.
Today is the first day.
The most famous parable may be today's text. There is also called by ‘Prodigal Son’. What I want to contemplate with you today is about God. The heart of the parable is God. I pray that we will understand the love of God that Jesus tells us through this parable.
In today’s text, three people appear. It is a father and two sons. Much of the story is tailored to the second son, which is the prodigal son. Today, I would like to focus on the second son and father. Next week, we may look at the story of the first son and father.
In this parable, we keep in mind that the main character of the parable is the father because we can find God's image from the father. Through the parable, Jesus wanted us to know about the Father rather than the prodigal son. Indeed, two sons in today's text are us. We will realize who we are and who God is through this parable.
To understand this parable of Jesus, we need to know how people lived at this time. I may summarize it one word, which was patriarchal age when the words of the father were absolute. The villagers also might be close relatives. These tell us that people were very careful in their lives. I understand what this means clearly because I lived such an environment when I was young. My behavior affected my family and the whole neighborhood.
So, the behavior of the little son of today's text is very shocking.
In verse 12,
"The second said to his father," Father, give me a portion of my possessions that will come to me. The father handed over each of his household. "
According to the law of Moses, the father’s property would be divided among his children. When dividing the property, it was supposed to pass 2/3 to the first son and 1/3 to the second (Deuteronomy 21:16,17). Considering that the father was very rich, we may assume that the size of the estate he gave to his second son would be great. But the reason why I said that the behavior of the second son was very shocking is that the father handed over the property to his children before he died. Therefore, it is like saying, 'Father, when are you going to die?' The second one was treating his father as a dead man. Perhaps for the second son, he showed that his father was already dead. People who hear the words of this little son could be in shock at that time.
Nevertheless, the father’s behavior was even strange. According to the law of Moses, this rebellious son would be dragged in front of the towns and stoned to death by the people of the town.
"If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. They shall say to the elders, "This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a profligate and a drunkard. Then all the men of his town shall stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid." (Deuteronomy 21: 18-21)
According to these, the younger son must be stoned to death, however, the father didn’t do any action. He saved his son, and he also handed out a portion of the property as the second son wanted.
If I have a son like this son in Jesus’ parable, as parents I should be sick. The second son didn’t listen to his father and treated him as a dead person. But the more troublesome thing happened in verse 13. It is that the little son has gone to the distant country with all he had. The father would have given his land as heritage, but now the second one sold all and left home.
The second son left his father as seen in verse 13. That was the reason why he asked his portion to his father. What is the meaning of the distant country? It was the place where his father’s influence didn’t work; where nobody knows him; where he could do everything whatever he wanted to do; where he could live freely without considering other people; where would be full of freedom.
You may want to go that place also. In a country where no one knows you; you don’t need to consider others.
I know the heart of the second son since I lived in the countryside and went to study in Seoul. I have experience living in a distant city from my father. There were so many people in Seoul, but people didn’t care whatever I did. Unlike the countryside, there were few people to recognize me, so I didn’t need to worry about anything about my family also. I felt such freedom. That's why the second son went to the distant country; there was no father’s influence; no competition with his brother. Since he had money, he didn’t worry about eating and living. Yes. He could do everything whatever he imagined.
The reason why the second son left home is also to find out who he was. He had infinite freedom. As a young man, he would have lived in a luxury car; dressed in fine clothes; ate delicious food that others should envy. He found himself as a wonderful person. He wanted to show himself without prejudice to others who didn’t know him. He lived freely; his life was completely different. The second one decided to live nicely, but not under the shadow of his father. He should be very satisfied with his new life in a distant country. Many people would envy him. He would be told that he was cool! It would be a wonderful picture that the second son had.
What many people want to pursue is the same as the second son. People want to show their wonderful self to others. I think Facebook is a good example. When you look at social media such as Facebook, you can see people's pictures and what they want. Everyone is happy when you look at the photos uploaded on Facebook. People are always laughing with their families. There is a wonderful landscape. Rich, delicious food photos are always on there. It's because people want to share their beautiful life with others. Sometimes it is difficult to find people's real faces because people show only face with colorful makeup. Like the second son in Jesus’ parable, we may want to live in such a distant country where no father’s influence nor interference of others. We want to show ourselves who we are.
But the second son had a problem. The second son wasted his possessions. He did not only waste money, but also wasted his precious life. This would be what happens when we are deprived of our hearts to the world. Like the second son, it is also a pattern of life that many lottery winners have shown. Many winners have wasted their time and their lives in unprofessional manner. Later, they have experienced the famine in their lives.
That day also came to the second son. The wonderful and splendid life has disappeared. And he has fallen into the place where people hated. He has dreamed a wonderful life, but he could not live what he wanted. The despair of a wonderful self-image would have been so great. And he found himself becoming miserable.
Let’s read verses 15 and 16.
“So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.”
These expressed well how he was in a miserable place. He came here to find his wonderful appearance; but what he found was at the bottom of his life.
It is verse 17. "When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!”
The second son had recognized who he was. Not only does his wonderful appearance disappear, but he had to live with a hateful pig. He found himself that he was hungry and wanted to eat even the food of a pig. It would be the appearance of a child who left his father. The second son remembered his father when he was in trouble. The second son realized that his father’s house and his servants at home. The second son has just seen himself properly; He realized how bad he was and how much he had sinned against his father and heaven.
By the way, what was it like when the second son lived with his father? He would have lived in a very good condition. He might have been enjoying his life by eating the food that the servants have cooked, and by wearing fine clothes. Nevertheless, the second son wanted to live a different world. Above all, he wanted to get out of his father’ authority. However, the conclusion of his life was a famine. By his own strength, he was in a state where he could not do anything. As you can see in the text today, blessings come to those who have realized their self-image. There were people who realized their self. It was all the tax collectors and sinners who came to Jesus (v.1).
But we may doubt how authentic the repentance of the second son would be. It was not a confession when he was abundant. His confession was when he was hungry. Think about it. What kind of person was he? He was a stubborn person. We may not know when he becomes full. Can you believe such a person? You may say ‘no’.
Nevertheless, we should take a careful look at his father 's actions. It is found in verse 20. It shows the moment when the second son returned to his father’s home. At that time, I hope you will read the article while imagining his father's appearance.
“So he got up and went to his father. "But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”
The father seemed to have always been waiting for his son to come back. Even though the second one went away from him and went to the distant country, but the father seemed to have believed that his son would come back someday. Maybe that's why the father gave his son money. The father seemed to have wanted the second son to know who he was. The father saw a tired little son, and the father’s heart moved; it is a heart of compassion. And the father ran toward his little son. The little boy did not expect this at all. Because he realized that he was a sinner about to die. Although he went home, but he didn’t know what would happen. How heavy his feet were! Surprisingly, the younger son saw his father running towards him.
At this time, the father might not run to his son. Especially, his son treated him dead and left home. Nevertheless, this Father in the parable of Jesus rushed toward his little son. Why? He loved his son. He wanted to save him also. If a village man finds his little son first, he would die because he was a rebellious son to his father. The father wanted to protect his son that was the reason why the father run to his son. And father’s arms around his son and kissed him. This would be a strange scene for the father. His behaviors were like a mother who showed the infinite love and forgiveness to his son. But his actions did not stay here. The father asked his servant to give him the best clothes. It shows that his son was accepted as a distinguished person. And he asked to put a ring on his son’s finger, which shows that he gave authority to his little son. And he asked to put sandals on his feet, which mean that his son was a free man.
You can see the love, forgiveness, and mercy of the father who was compassionate to his son who should die.
This is the mercy God has shown toward man. Man proclaimed that God the Father died. They insulted the Heavenly Father. They left God away. They decorated themselves with the desires of the world. However, after losing everything, they remembered God again. Doing such a thing, Heavenly Father felt compassion for them and ran to forgive their sins. HE gave us the garments of the children of God, gave us power to be children of God, and gave us new freedoms as children of God.
It is the heart that God showed to mankind. It is like the heart Jesus showed to tax collectors and sinners. But father's heart does not stop. He gave a feast for the second son who would have died. He is the Father of God. The God has done the same to us.
We are people who go away from God in search of our image. But do we find ourselves? Yes. We may find ourselves when we are in famine in our lives. Then we see ourselves. We are discovering ourselves to fight with pigs in our minds. It would be very fortunate for us to have found our sinful appearance. The second son found himself in a state of sinful self. Then he decided to return to his father. His decision was right. His father’s home was warm and peaceful. It was a place full of infinite love and forgiveness of the father. Return to Heavenly Father. The house of Heavenly Father was full of forgiveness. He hugs us and kisses us. Furthermore, he clothes us, he puts the ring on our finger; he gives us sandals for freedom. You can feel the infinite love of Heavenly Father.
In this week's bulletin, a picture of Lambert's work "The Return of the Prodigal God" is printed. You can see that an old man is hugging a young man wearing shabby clothes.
It is fortunate that there is a place to go to that person who has experienced everything in the world and has no place to go anymore. It is fortunate for him to have a home to return to.
Lambert's younger day was like the second son in parable. He has lived a wonderful life when he enjoyed his reputation as a painter. Then there was a severe famine in his life. He broke, his wife died, and his children died. It is said that he spent such a rough time and painted this picture in his old age. Lambert has found the Father who embraced him.
Even if you wear shabby clothes, you have found yourself as a Lambert. It is the moment when all the hardships and sufferings of the world melt. The moment when the pain turns into peace. It is time for Heavenly Father hugs you.
Although we are in a terrible trouble, we will realize that we are sinners and we have God who has pity on us. God hugs us and kisses us despite our unfaithfulness.
It does not stop there. He clothes us the garments of the children of God, gives us authority to be children of God, and freedom enjoyed by God's children. I pray that you can feel the love of the great God. I bless you in the name of the Lord that we all have the experience of embracing the weary of us like a Lambert.