Return of the Prodigal

by / 0 Comments / 21 View / September 5, 2016

I have recently come into closer contact with a very old painting; The Return of the Prodigal by Rembrandt. This painting came to me through the reading of a book of the same title by Henri Nouwen. This book details the relationship that Nouwen has had with this this painting and the profound impact upon his life. I want to highlight just one insight that is Nouwen’s that, I believe, applies to us all.
Most of us know the basics of Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son. A younger son wishes his father dad by demanding his portion of the inheritance while his father is still living. He then goes off to exotic locales to spend this small fortune on prurient things. Then the money runs out far too soon, and the son is homeless and starving and his good time friends are all gone. He hires himself out to a pig farmer to feed pigs, and is so hungry he wishes he ate as well as the pigs. Rough stuff. But then the son remembers that his father is still his father. He might have lost the honour of ‘sonship’ because of his actions, but surely he could come home as a slave or hireling so as to at least have enough to eat.
So back to ‘home’ he goes, expecting to confess his sin, and repent just enough to live life as a slave or indentured servant to his father. He was wrong. His father refuses to accept him as a slave. His father won’t have anything to do with him as a hireling or servant. His father is willing to receive his son back from the dead. All along, and even now we find that the ‘sonship’ isn’t dependent upon the behaviour of the son, bur rather on the relatedness to to the father.
And thus it is with you. I don’t know what you have done or where you have gone. I am nearly sure that you have beat yourself up plenty about it though. I am pretty sure that you think even if God were to still love you, He would only have you back as a slave or a servant because you are not worthy to bear the name son or the name daughter. This simply isn’t so. You are a child of the Father. He loves you and your behaviour neither earns nor extinguishes the love He desires to lavish upon you. Come to God and be loved and accepted today.