Luke 15 verses 11 & 12. “Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate,’ So he divided his property between them.”
Here we have a story about a young man who was not contented with his father’s house. How relevant to our age today. The father presented in the parable was by all accounts a wonderful, open-hearted and generous man. His house must have been a terrific place in which to grow up. But as we all know, the world is full of ingrats. You yourself can easily remember people who are never satisfied, never contented, always wanting that one more thing – whatever it may be. How empty and sad such a life must be, although when we are young, we often do not see such attitudes for what they really are.
In the culture of Jesus’ day this story would have caused a real stir. For a son to ask his father for his share of the inheritance while the father was still alive was considered the height of disrespect for the elder man. It was so rude and dismissive of his father’s rights; an act like this would be considered the same as wishing the father was dead. It was saying to him, “I do not wish to live in our house, under your protection or with your rules. Let me get out.” How unthinkable. How strange, for this is exactly what we humans have done to God. We live our own fallen, often trite lives, because we feel exactly as that boy felt toward his father – disrespect, ingratitude, a sense of entitlement, an inability to see life from the father’s point of view. We, who judge that son for being such an ungrateful wretch, are ourselves ungrateful wretches and rebels against the Almighty, rejecting his rule in favour of our own autonomy.
The father in the story would have been quite within his rights to have the elders of the town take the boy and give him a good beating, according to the custom of that day. But he did not. He let him go. The boy got what he asked for and off he went.
Here is a picture of God’s great love for us even in our sin. God honours our decisions. If we do not want him, he will not force us to do so. He lets us go.
Can you think of people in your own life even now, who are self-centred, angry and wretchedly unhappy? Or may be old, lonely, isolated and largely unwanted after a lifetime of acrimonious living? God has simply let them go. They had their way. They did not want the father’s house.
At the time of leaving the young son could not see the future. None of us can. At times, life seems so good, so free, so very much in our hands. We feel we can do as we please. If we make mistakes, so what! They are “my” mistakes. If we fall on our face, so what! It’s “my” face. The future is ours to embrace. No father shadowing us, no rules to keep, life is mine, and I will just go for it!
Well, yes! But decisions have consequences and life is unpredictable. This young man is about to find that out.