Have you ever thought to describe God’s love as reckless? The Parable of the Prodigal Son tells a story of a father’s reckless love for his lost son. The father appears reckless when his younger son returns home after demanding his inheritance while his father is still alive, and blowing it on “wild living”. The son eventually comes to his senses and returns home in hopes of becoming merely a servant to his father. Instead of demanding repayment from his son, the father sees him coming in the distance, runs to him, embraces him, and throws a party in his honor (Luke 15:11-32).
This is a picture of God’s reckless love for us, and it takes us to the heart of the gospel. Just like the father in this story, God relentlessly pursues the lost, embraces us with His grace and then brings us back in His fold without us having to earn our way back. I’ve experienced this grace in my own life; the grace that asks nothing of me but a repentant heart.
In the parable, we also read about the older brother, who’s offended by his father’s response towards his younger brother. He is so angry that he refuses to go inside and celebrate his brother. His offense showcases his self-righteousness. He believes he’s entitled to something because, while the younger brother was away squandering his inheritance, the older brother was at home faithfully serving his father. He failed to recognize that he too was an heir only by grace.
Two brothers; two different approaches to life: self-discovery and moral conformity (self-righteousness). Which one are you? We’ve all been one or the other at some point, maybe even both. The most amazing part is that God has grace for both types of people. There’s room for everyone and we’re all invited to the table. We don’t earn God’s grace and we certainly don’t deserve it; it’s a gift.
The Parable of the Prodigal Son is one part of a trio of parables in Luke 15 of which the Prodigal Son is the third. The first two parables highlight something that is lost and the people who took action to find that which was lost: the shepherd goes after the lost sheep and the woman sweeps the house looking for the lost coin. In the third parable, however, no one went after the lost son. As the older brother, it was his responsibility to look after his younger brother, but instead he was drowning in his self-righteousness. The good news is that Jesus, in His grace and mercy, stepped in as the older brother on behalf of all mankind by giving up His life on a mission of mercy to rescue us and bring us home.
So let’s remember that grace is free but it was not cheap. Jesus had to suffer and give His life for it, for us. He understood how serious sin is, and sacrificed His blood as the only currency that could pay for it. Let us follow the teachings of the gospel, shift our hearts and embrace the grace of God and His reckless love for us. Younger brothers, come home! Older brothers, remember why you are home!