Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Our text for today is one of the most familiar parables of our Lord. A parable is a symbolic story to illustrate a point that the Lord wanted to teach people in terms they could understand. The people in the parable are examples to us. The father in the parable of the prodigal son represents our heavenly Father. The two sons represent human beings. There are two sons in the parable, but they represent trends in each of us.
In many families, the eldest son is more responsible, he wants to conform to the expectations of his parents. And his parents have more expectations of the eldest son. On the other side, parents often see their youngest son only as a gift from God, and allow him more freedom. The youngest son may become spoiled.
So it is in the parable. The younger son is not a grateful son. "And the younger of them said unto his father, Father, give me the portion of the goods that is due to me: and he divided their goods. And not many days later, when the youngest son gathered his, he went away to a remote province; And there he wasted his life by wanton living. "
We are children of God. By creation, because, as the psalmist says, God formed us in the wombs of our mothers. We are also children of God for the redemption in Jesus Christ, because the psalmist also says, in sin my mother conceived me. As St. Paul says in the Epistle (1 Corinthians 1-13), in baptism we are all free from slavery to sin, as the Israelites crossed from bondage to freedom through the waters of the Red Sea. The promise of life is the best gift of God, but God in His love and mercy gives us all the good things in this life. However, we often do not live as grateful children, but as the prodigal son.
"And when all was wasted, there came a great famine in that province, and he began to lack. And he went and drew near to one of the citizens of that land, who sent him to his farm to feed the swine. And he wished to fill his belly with the cobs that the pigs ate; But no one gave him any. "
Many times we take for granted the blessings of God. When the goods end, the friends of the party left, and there is no work or food, we think of God.
"And he came to himself, and said, How many laborers in my father's house have an abundance of bread, and I perish with hunger! I will rise, I will go to my father, and I will say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; Make me as one of your laborers. "
Like the father in the parable, God loves us and does not reject us when we pray to Him on the day of trouble. And in the prodigal son we have the model of true repentance. The Greek word translated "repentance" means total change of mind and heart. The prodigal son showed this because he got up and left the remote province. He did not want to live apart from his father.
Because his hunger was not only for the material bread, but also the spiritual bread. As God provided bread and water in the desert for the Israelites, in this world God provides us with the nourishment of our faith in the preaching of the Word and in the sacraments.
Then, in this parable, we have a picture of the joy of God and the angels in the heavens when a sinner repents and returns to the family of God.
"But the father said to his servants, 'Take the best robe, and put it on; And put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fat calf, and kill it, and let us eat, and let us feast: for this my son was dead, and is alive again; He was lost, and is found. And they began to rejoice. "
At other times, we show a lack of gratitude to God when we despise other redeemed sinners, like the eldest son of the parable.
"And his eldest son was in the field; As he came, and came near the house, he heard the music and the dancing. And calling one of the servants, he asked what it was. He said to him, Your brother has come; And thy father hath caused the fatted calf to be slain, to have received him good and sound. And he was angry, and would not go. So his father went out, and begged him to come in. But he answered and said unto the father, Behold, I have served thee so many years, I have not disobeyed thee, and thou hast not given me a kid to rejoice with my friends: But when thy son came, who hath consumed thy goods with harlots, for him the fat calf. "
This son stayed in the house of his father physically and did not rebel in exterior acts- But in his heart he was far from his father. He looked for what he deserved. But the Word of God for each of us is we are all sinners. No one deserves anything good from the hands of God. However, God loves us and that is why we have everything.
Our model of repentance is the prodigal son and King David in Psalm 51: "Against you and only you have I done evil ." In this repentance we have the promise that God is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Therefore, we have peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.
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