Luke 15 v 24. “For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”
The words the father uses to describe his son bear another look. Here the father gives us the reason for his son’s attitude, his rebellion, his wasteful ways and his final humiliation. What was wrong with the lad? Why, says the father, can you not see – he was dead! Of course he was not physically dead, but he was dead in all those other dynamics of the human, mind, thinking, emotions and relationships. He could not see because he was dead. He could not hear any pleas, because he was dead, he could not understand the danger he was in because he was dead. Not only so, says the father but that element of deadness within him drove him out into a world that simply swallowed him – he was lost. Like the sheep in the first parable.
So here into the father’s mouth Jesus put words that describe the true condition of all people in the world. Remember Jesus is still answering the criticism of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, in verse 1 & 2 of this chapter. They were critical and hostile to the “sinners”. Well, says Jesus, here in this parable is a sinner. But notice this – you Pharisees only see him as a rebel, sinner and immoral wastrel. All those things may be true but there is another way of dealing with these people. They are dead and lost. While their sins cannot be condoned the truth is they need redemption. They need to “come to their senses”.
It’s worth remembering this when dealing with family and friends. Sometimes we feel so frustrated because, as it seems to us, in the light of the clearest of evidence they refuse to see the point. But the truth may be that they CANNOT see the point because they are spiritually blind.
The father’s joy in this story is not so much because the boy gave up the wild parties but because he became ALIVE. He was reconciled to his father. That was why the father REJOICED.
Our Great Heavenly Father is after reconciliation with Him. Salvation is always relational. It is not cold and legalistic. It is warm and magnanimous because that is what God is like.
That is why we Christians often ask people if they know the Lord. It’s a relationship. When they reply that they go to Church, we know it is not enough.
They need to come alive.
Let’s pray for that, for ourselves and for them.