The Prodigal Son 3. The Prodigal FATHER

The story of the prodigal son:

The free dictionary defines prodigal this way:

1. recklessly wasteful or extravagant, as in disposing of goods or money
2. lavish in giving or yielding prodigal of compliments

I think we get words like prodigious, product, productive, from the same root. We’ve heard the term ‘prodigal son’ so many times associated with sin, with squandering wealth and opportunity, that we equate it more with evil than with extravagance. The real root of the word tends toward the idea of extravagance.

So, let’s take a different look at the father in the story. When the son asks for his inheritance, does the father say, “well, I’ll give you a week’s worth of money to go out and try living on your own.” He gives him everything. When the son returns, he doesn’t say, “get him inside and give him some of that soup.” No, he runs out, he falls on his neck, he calls for rings and robes and sandals and fattened calves and feasts. When the older son complains, he says, “everything I have is yours.” This is a man of extravagance; the prodigal son is much like his father. He has added wisdom to his extravagance, but he is not a cheap, stingy, withholding man. This is a man who is generous, who throws parties, who is passionate and unafraid to show it.

More than that, this is a man who loves deeply. He obviously mourns the absence of his son, and is overwhelmed with relief at his return. He is not even trying to be reserved about celebrating his son’s return. He spots him coming while he is still a long way off, which means he must have been in the habit of going out and looking. He is therefore obsessive about him, and while for all practical purposes it might seem his son was dead, he did not give up hope.

Shall we expect less extravagance from our Father in heaven? Jesus is teaching us, this is what He is like! It was not enough that He made the whole earth, He made an entire universe which is so vast that the earth is not even a speck of dust in comparison. He made the earth itself drip with opulent life and provision, and made us to be vastly intelligent and mysterious creatures. In fact, Solomon says in Ecclesiastes that He has set eternity our hearts. This is not a stingy God. We can expect extravagance and blessing and quick passionate forgiveness and abundant provision when dealing with Him. We have a rich father who loves to give and who loves to throw big parties and who loves us very very deeply and isn’t afraid to show it. What could be better than that?!

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