by London Harben
What are parables and why did Jesus use them so often? Jesus used parables in his teachings to help those that were illiterate (most of the people in his day were uneducated) to remember important lessons through stories and traditions. He accomplished this by creating relatable, simplistic, stories in the form of parables. Jesus made it easy for people to spread his teachings to others and also helped them to understand important life lessons at the same time. Let’s look at one of these parables found in Luke 15 that the Holy Spirit has placed on my mind lately.
In the parable of the lost son, Jesus teaches about a man that has two sons, one of which demands his inheritance early from his father. His father gives his son his inheritance as requested and the son goes off and lives a sinful life until he runs out of money. Hence he becomes the Prodigal son; prodigal means spending money or resources extravagantly. After this, he tries to work for someone, but is treated badly; so he decides to go home to his father because he knows he will at least be treated more fairly just as his father’s servants are treated fairly.
Once the son returns, the father rejoices and shows nothing but love for his lost son because he is overjoyed that his lost son has realized his wayward ways and returned home. Why does the father welcome his son with such open arms? How can the father forgive the son for living so recklessly and wasting away his life’s earnings? Picture God as the father and the son as yourself. Can you relate to the son in anyway, walking away from God’s ways, living a life of sin, or refusing to submit to His ways due to unjust and finite judgements made by others or yourself? I can easily see myself as the son, none of us are perfect and we all sinful, but through His great love for us He will always welcome us back home to be with Him if you so choose. Scripture tells us that God will never stop pursuing us in this life because He loves us more than we can comprehend. However, we have the ability to reject His offer and mis-interpret His love as something that is portrayed by the world instead, submission of one’s self and the right to do as one wishes without repercussions ultimately comes down to our free will.
The world today portrays God as the opposite of this parable; in that, the world claims God to be a tyrant who cannot possibly love humans as the bible claims. The late Christopher Hitchens was a leading example as an unbeliever, Mr. Hitchens was an angry and driven anti-theist who was fiercely against the idea of an all loving god. So is the God of the Old Testament the same as the God of the New Testament? Is He a truly loving creator? Absolutely! But London the God portrayed in the two Testaments acts so differently, how can you say that? Briefly, let’s discuss this in regards to time. If God is the only cause of creation and the sustainer of all of creation as claimed, then we must look at Him as the One and Only creator of everything in existence. If God is the original creator of the Universe as the Bible says and there was an original origin to the universe ie. The Big Bang which is confirmed by science with all evidence showing nothing else was previously existing. Then we must deduce that the evidence both scientifically and biblically reference an all powerful being that much exist outside of time and space. This short synopsis can of course be expanded upon greatly to involve scientific, philosophical, and historical evidence to support that creation was indeed created by a creator versus a random chance of abstract ideals such as Richard Dawkins and other unbelievers claim.
In summation, we must view the Prodigal Son story given to us directly from Jesus as a story about His love towards us. We are fallen from grace, but through the free gift of grace provided through Jesus’s sacrifice we may be saved through Him. Jesus came and bore the sin of ALL of us while we were at our worst, farthest from Him, and while we hated Him the most by living for ourselves instead of for Him. He is overjoyed whenever one lost soul comes to Him (read Luke 15 1-7). So whether you are far from God or close to Him (in essence- whether you are the son going off to indulge in the temporary satisfactions of this world or if you are the broken and lost son that has already returned) know that the God of the universe is overjoyed when you return to Him. Your past can be pushed aside as long as you repent and look to Him. There is hope for everyone no matter what you have been through or done and God will always welcome you back into His arms in this life.
Reflections of Hope if you turn to Him: Luke 15 1-32, Psalm 103:10-12, Isaiah 1:18 and 43:25, Luke 24: 46-47, John 1:9.
Prayer: Thank you God for always loving me. You still want me even though I have done nothing but do whatever I desire instead of following your ways. You are willing to look past all of my mistakes and accept me for the broken person I am. I pray that you guide me in this life to glorify your name and to share your loving word with as many as I can. Amen!