The Evangelist Luke records a story with which many of us have been familiar since our youngest days in Sunday School. However, today’s text is not only about one “lost (prodigal) boy,” or even two “lost sons.” It really is a short story which finds its true meaning when we focus on the loving, forgiving, seeking and “Finding Father!”
Jesus was preaching and teaching the crowds when the Pharisees and teachers of the Law noticed, and muttered to themselves, that He was welcoming and even eating with tax collectors and “sinners.” As a way to affirm those who were coming to Him with repentant hearts and, at the same time, as a way to reprimand the unrepentant, “holier-than-thou” teachers of the Law, Jesus taught three parables – earthly stories with heavenly meanings. These parables were the story of the lost sheep (or the Finding Shepherd); the story of the lost coin (or the Finding Woman); and finally, our text, the story of the prodigal son or the “Two ‘Lost’ Sons and Their ‘Finding’ Father.”
The first “lost son” was the immature, foolish younger brother who one day came to his Father with the premature demanded for his inheritance. In effect he was saying to his loving father, “You mean nothing to me! I wish you were dead and I want what is mine!” This disrespectful, selfish, and foolish young man quickly gathered his possessions, went to a far country and wildly wasted everything he had. Eventually, he ended up in the fields, as a poor hired-hand to a hog farmer, himself so hungry that he wanted to eat the slop given to the hogs! He finally came to his senses, repented and returned to his father.
The second “lost son” is the older brother who, coming in from the fields the same day, heard music and dancing, only to discover that his brother had returned and been fully and freely welcomed and forgiven by their father. This older brother, too, was truly “lost” in his own anger, bitterness and jealousy! He was unmoved by the sincere confession of his younger brother or the warming love of his father who was trying to melt his stone-cold, unforgiving heart.
Throughout the story we continue to witness the generous actions of the loving, forgiving, seeking and “Finding Father!” He loved both his sons. He provided for and protected them both. He didn’t begrudge the earlier, selfish request of the younger boy. He waited for his return and watched for him. When he returned, he ran to meet him; forgave him; lavished him with gifts and didn’t hold his former recklessness against him.
At the same time, his love was great enough to enfold the older boy! He learned of his son’s stubbornness and unwillingness to forgive, and went after him –including encouraging, seeking, inviting and welcoming the older brother back into the family circle. The “Finding Father” loved and desired to freely forgive the “lost” older brother.
You and I can be truly thankful that the “Finding Father” in the parable represents our true Father in Heaven. You see, some of us, like the younger brother, have thoughtlessly and thanklessly taken everything which our Heavenly Father has generously given us, and then we have recklessly “gone our own way and done our own thing” as if He were “dead to us!” Some of us are like the unloving, unforgiving older brother who “hold at arm’s length” those who are “different” than we are; those who we see as “worse sinners” than we are; those who suffer because of their own foolish actions. We go about our own daily business as if they didn’t count; didn’t exist; didn’t matter!
The “Finding Father” in the parable is a reminder for us of our Heavenly Father who loves, seeks and forgives us when we are “lost” in sin, death and the power of the devil. He sent Jesus to take our place; to take our punishment; to take our sin and to be our Savior. Because of Jesus, the “Finding Father” welcomes, forgives and lavishes His blessings upon us!
As members of Holy Cross Lutheran Church and School, we thank God for all His wonderful blessings throughout nearly 75 years! Since God has richly blessed us with every spiritual and earthly gift we have, it is our privilege, in response to His love and goodness, to be a blessing to others around us. The leaders, members and staff of Holy Cross have heard God’s call to us to “Reach the Lost and Strengthen the Saved!”
Just as Jesus “came to seek and save what was lost” (Luke 19:10), our Church and school are called by our Lord to Reach the Lost by sharing our faith through generous works of service and loving Gospel witness to Wichita and all the world. At the same time, the ministry of Holy Cross congregation Strengthens the Saved as we gather together faithfully, to encourage and to build each other up as believers in Jesus Christ.
It is our firm belief that God, “who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power at work within us” (Ephesians 3: 20), will bless our efforts to “Reach the Lost & Strengthen the Saved” as we give generously to the Lord through the Church by funding Missions, Eliminating our Debt, Growing our Church Endowment and Providing for much-needed Facilities Improvements.
God has “found” all of us – His precious daughters and sons. May we discover our mission, and our joy, in finding and strengthening others who are lost forever without a loving, growing relationship with Jesus, the One and Only Savior of the World! Thank God that He is our loving, forgiving, seeking and “Finding Father!”
See you in church this next weekend!
Blessings in Christ,