9 Mar. Luke 15:11-24

9 Mar. The story of the wayward teenager

"Then Jesus said, 'A man had two sons. The younger son said to his father. "Give me my share of the property." So the father divided the property between his two sons.'"

"'Then the younger son gathered up all that was his and travelled far away to another country. There he wasted his money in foolish living.'"

"'After he had spent everything, a time came when there was no food anywhere in the country, and the son was poor and hungry. So he got a job with one of the citizens there who sent the son into the fields to feed pigs.'"

"'The son was so hungry that he wanted to eat the food the [ritually unclean] pigs were eating. When he realised what he was doing, he thought, "All my father's servants have plenty of food. But I am here, almost dying with hunger."'"

"'"I will leave and return to my father and say to him, 'Father, I have sinned against God and have done wrong to you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son, but let me be like one of your servants."'"

"'So the son left and went to his father. While the son was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt sorry for his son. So the father ran to him and hugged and kissed him.'"

"'The son said, "Father, I have sinned against God and have done wrong to you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son."'"

"'But the father said to his servants, "Hurry! Bring the best clothes and put them on him. Also put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get our fat calf and kill it so we can have a feast and celebrate. My son was dead, but now he is alive again! He was lost, but now he is found."'"

          (Luke 15:11-24)



We love this beautiful story told by Jesus as it encapsulates precisely how much God loves us!

The details of the 'parable' (an earthly story with a heavenly meaning) are stunning and so relevant today. The teenager who has always taken his father's love and wealth for granted; the rebellion - lashing out on designer clothes, girls and alcohol; selfish and immature behaviour; waking up to reality; desperation, self-harm and re-assessment; going back home in despair; asking forgiveness... This story has it all!

Then we're told about the loving father (just like our loving heavenly father): Generous; Forgiving; Doesn't dwell on our foolishness; Welcomes us back home; Loves us; Provides abundantly when we're desperate; Celebrates our return... Amazing love, amazing grace.

But this isn't JUST a story; it's a parable - so it has a true meaning behind the fictitious characters. If you hadn't noticed, it's actually a story about US and our relationship with GOD.

Did you know that Jesus was a brilliant storyteller, but he liked to recycle stories from the Jewish Scriptures? Did you realise that Jesus's story of the "Prodigal Son" is actually a re-telling of the Old Testament story/parable of Jonah (see Jonah 1:1 - 4:11)?

Just have a think about the similarities between the two stories... Jonah is a young man who is fed up with his heavenly father (God), so he runs away to the bright lights of Joppa, enjoys the questionable 'delights' of a typical port town, and sets sail for a distant country (Jonah 1:1-3); But things go wrong and he is treated badly by the 'crew' he has fallen in with (Jonah 1:15); Tired of eating the food scraps in a fish's stomach (don't forget that this is a story/parable!), Jonah begins to see sense (Jonah 2:1), and asks his heavenly father for forgiveness using a beautiful song he learnt as a child (Jonah 2:2-9); God hears his cry of desperation and solves his problems immediately - in a way that most people would think is unimaginable (Jonah 2:10).

(Jonah's later resentment of God's kind treatment of the people of Nineveh in Chapters 3 & 4 echoes the reaction of the elder brother when he hears how the father has forgiven the rebellious teenager - but we'll come to that tomorrow!)

The photo (by JoAnn S.Makinano) shows the reconstructed Nergal gate at Nineveh - the 'sin city' or 'Las Vegas' of Assyria.

You can read more about 'parables' in the Old Testament, including the story of Jonah, @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/…/introduction-to-the-book…/

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