Let’s take a minute and think about a time when we were in a distant country (or a time clearly led by sin and ignoring God, for anyone who may have not read the earlier days in this series yet). Maybe you are there now. If so, I’ve already said a prayer for your deliverance from that space.
When we are in a distant country, we may try to get out of the mess we are in on our own. Whether its pride, embarrassment, doubt, or a plethora of other rationales that the enemy convinces us are true, we don’t get help. We don’t seek Him. We know something needs to change, but we ignore or handle it on our own.
Here’s the thing: we will only get in our own way if we try to fix things ourselves, solely on our own accord. Our very best solution will always be a partial solution at best. The solution will be flawed. I’m speaking from a few decades of misguided experiences here.
Let’s look at the parable, and see what I mean.
After failed attempts at living well in the distant country, by verse 17, the younger son knows he messed up and wants to go back home. He knows he is technically still a son biologically, but he also thinks he lost his status as member of the family.
Remember how egregious he was in asking for the inheritance and leaving home? Here’s where that comes into play again. Back then, rabbis taught that if one violated their family so severely as this son had, an apology would be insufficient to make amends. Restitution would need to be paid.
The son would have known this teaching which is why some scholars speculate the son planned to come back as a hired servant: he knew he would have to pay restitution. Being a hired servant would afford him the opportunity to do so. Remember, he had no money left of his own.
The son’s own plans went something like this: “I know I don’t have the right to come back to the family but if they apprentice me to one of their hired men, I can learn a trade, earn an income, and begin to pay off my debt.”
Since we’ve already acknowledged the father in this parable equates to our Heavenly Father, this is like saying, “I couldn’t make it on my own. God is the only resource left to me. I will go to God and ask for forgiveness in the hope He lets me survive in proximity to Him, but under the pretense of forced labor.”
That doesn’t sound very enticing, does it? Nor does it portray the actual child/Heavenly Father relationship as it really exists upon repentance. Instead, by this perspective, our God remains a harsh, judgmental God. Submission to this God does not create true inner freedom, but breeds bitterness and resentment.
You see, the younger son had partial answer and an incorrect solution. We don’t need to pay off debts. Jesus did that on the cross. As we will see tomorrow, the younger son didn’t need to pay off his debts either. His carefully laid out, well-intentioned plan did not even compare to what his father had in mind.
His own plan was incomplete, but his father’s was anything but.
See you tomorrow!
Did you know I created a worship playlist just for this series?!
Celebrate a good, good Father who is always calling and welcoming his children home!
Previous posts from the Prodigal Series
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