The Kindness of The Lord

Sometimes we have to ask ourselves if we really know that we have a good Father in heaven. Often, the emotional trauma caused by the betrayal, abandonment, and infidelity of our earthly fathers blinds us to the reality of our wonderful heavenly Father who is always calling those who have gone astray. Being the by-product of a dysfunctional family may make it difficult for some people to understand the concept of both good and father in relation to each other. 

For many, it seems to be a misnomer to place these two terms side by side. Others have taken for granted the goodness of our Father God. Jesus said, “He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matt. 5:45). The kindness of God surrounds us. It is this unconditional love and the repetitive nature of His blessings that sometimes dull our senses.

The people listening to Jesus telling this story could relate to the younger son’s dilemma. In ancient societies, the honor of the father and the honor of the family were of greater importance than the individual merit of the son. In the case of the prodigal son, he was at a greater disadvantage because he was the younger of the two sons, therefore, less important. Based on the Mosaic Law, he was only able to get one-third of his father’s assets. Moreover, tradition dictated that he did not have much leverage to ask for an unconditional pardon in order to be restored to his former status. Nobody had to tell him he had brought all of his troubles upon himself. 

Among the crowd were Pharisees and teachers of the law (see Luke 15:2). They probably snickered halfway through the story, wondering why Jesus was wasting His time talking about a sinner who deserved to be punished severely. In their minds, there was no news to over-analyze this parable. They believed they knew the moral lesson because they were confident they knew the law. In the minds of the Pharisees, the Law called for death, for this is what was written:

If someone has a stubborn or rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. They shall say to the elders, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.” then all of the men of his town are to stone him to death. (Deut. 21:18-21)

It was as if this particular law was written specifically with the prodigal son in mind. The description fit him perfectly. He was stubborn and rebellious. We can surmise that he loved to drink, but we are sure that he was a glutton because he recklessly spent every single penny he owned. It was easy for the Pharisees to judge this young man. For them, it would have been better for the prodigal to stay away because his father had the legal right to stone him for his rebellious attitude. They had no idea that Jesus was talking about a different kind of Father.

In the parable, the prodigal son lived outside the embrace and the will of his father. He put as much distance as he could between himself and his father and spent all his time and money pursuing the things he thought would make him happy and satisfied with life.

Dirty, tired, weak from a lack of food, and living in an environment to which he was not accustomed, the prodigal son is a powerful image of the consequences of rebellion—the insistence that we can live outside of Father God’s embrace. At home, he has been certain he was missing out on life, deprived of the freedom to do the things he really wanted to do because his father was too strict, like a tyrant, having absolute control over him. However, in the pigpen he realized the real tyrant was self.

His self-will had driven him to the pit of despair and into a spiritual pigsty. As he compared his current status to that of the servants who worked for his father, he concluded that they were better off than he was: “How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!” (Luke 15:17). Then it hit him like a thunderbolt—his father was a good father!

The prodigal son went through life without taking time to reflect or be grateful that he had a loving father. It wasn’t until he experienced life in a pigpen that he was able to recognize the difference between the world and his father’s home. The Bible says, “He came to his senses”(v. 17). He knew in an instant there was nothing else he could do except seek his father’s face and beg for mercy. Only one thing had been stopping him: his belief that no one could accept a rebel such as himself.

Take some time to reflect on the goodness and loving kindness of our heavenly Father who says, “Everything I have is yours!” 

Ask the Father to show you if there are ways in your life where you choose to act like the prodigal son, working as a slave for His love and inheritance instead of knowing it has all been yours from the very beginning.

P.S. Interested in learning more about this topic? Purchase Healing the Orphan Spirit here.

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