“And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living.” ~Luke 15:13 (NKJV)
Today I am picking up where I left off with humility. If you remember I had found some notes on my desk that I got some time ago concerning humility in the life of the prodigal son. Now within these notes is the term Colony 101. For any of you who know Chaplin Jim Freed, the parable of the prodigal son is one of his strong suits and he uses this parable to help us Colony guys get our heads around The Fathers forgiveness for us when we repent and turn 180* to Jesus and seek to live an exchanged life. Over the years I myself have seen the layers that is in this parable so I think this would definitely be Colony 101 stuff.
Now previously I suggested that this young man may have practiced some sorta pseudo-humility by asking for his inheritance before his father passed on. After all, just walking up to dad and saying, “Dude, I can’t wait for you to die so can I have my stuff now?” fly’s…right? Well in the 1st century dem’s was fightin’ words and this guy would have gotten his tail kicked in or at the very least got nuttin’ when dad died (however in the 21st century kids really do have the brass to ask for this thing to actually happen, just sayin’). But for the sake of illustration Jesus chooses to begin this parable with someone who is obviously morally wrong and this would have gotten their attention. (ya think?)
So there is no doubt that the prodigal was seeking instant gratification and from what I see in these notes I got there is this statement… “He was the Dead Sea of all his intentions”. Hmmm…that’s like saying he swims in “Lake Loser” right? But do you realize that there are contemporary counterparts to the prodigal and maybe you see them in your everyday? Those folks who are down on their luck riding the bus or the train, walking down the road with all their possessions in plastic Walmart bags, locked up in jail, on television running for president (oops let that one slip, sorry) or maybe they are like 40 totally different men at the Colony of Mercy. You could say that these people had their chance in life—like everyone else—but they threw their chance away. Maybe, in a way, they deserve to feel humiliated…
Well, when you look into Luke 15:15-16 you can see a movement to justify that statement. We tend to focus in what is going on to the prodigal but I see a fine display of attitude from people as well. I see man’s ability to humiliate in verse 15, I see man’s ability to exploit in verse 16 and what I don’t see is man’s ability to show grace and mercy. It’s at this moment in the parable that Jesus will flip the script on what should happen to us when we are in that spiritual “famine in the land” moment. It’s this moment in the life of the prodigal where humiliation becomes humility.
Now just because the prodigal finally comes to his senses, realizes that he has sinned against heaven, his father and isn’t worthy to be called a son doesn’t mean he got the whole idea of humility down. OH NO, because what it took was the father’s response to the very sight of him. Running down the road in a robe and sandals ain’t no easy task but for the “pater familias” to do this is unthinkable in the 1st century…well in any century. If I do this, I feel that I’m falling flat on my face no matter overjoyed I would be seeing my son CHOOSING to come home. Choosing to come home is the humbling action that has the father showering his wayward son with love and grace. Putting better clothes on him, shoes and a ring on him is the father showering him with mercy.
So why is this a cool parable? Well I guess I’ll just have to take my shot at answering that the next time I am with you. But until then think about the audience that is hearing this parable…those wacky Pharisees. All the way up to this point everything that Jesus has spoken to has gotta be seething in the hearts of those men, after all, they have the ability to humiliate and to exploit just like those that done so to the prodigal when he became in need. And I wouldn’t be surprised if they hadn’t already done so to those people that YHVH Himself handpicked to bring into the Promised Land. Now does this stuff still happen in the 21st century? You better believe it…Amen?
Written by Chris Hughes: Chris, a graduate of The Colony of Mercy (11-2003) is married with two adult children (you may remember them from summer staff) and serves on the Deacon Board at Trinity Alliance Church in Cologne NJ
The Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 96; Proverbs 5
Click Here to Download our 2016 Daily Bible Reading Plan
Daily Quote: “Let us, from the beginning, admit that there is nothing so natural to man, nothing so insidious and hidden from our sight, nothing so difficult and dangerous, as pride. Let us feel that nothing but a very determined and persevering waiting on God and Christ will disclose how lacking we are in the grace of humility, and how weak we are to obtain what we seek.” ~Andrew Murray
This Week’s Verse to Memorize:
The Lord is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life;
Of whom shall I be afraid? ~Psalm 27:1
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