Retired seminary professor Fred B. Craddock was preaching on the parable of the prodigal son. After the service a man said to Craddock, “I really didn’t care much for that, frankly.”
Craddock asked, “Why?”
The man said, “Well, I guess it’s not your sermon, I just don’t like that story.”
Craddock asked, “What is it you don’t like about it?”
He said, “It’s not morally responsible.”
Craddock asked, “What do you mean by that?”
“Forgiving that boy,” said the man.
Craddock asked, “Well, what would you have done?”
The man said, “I think when he came home he should’ve been arrested.”
Craddock asked the man, “What would you have given the prodigal?”
The man said, “Six years.”
What if you were the prodigal son? Would you want this man determining your destiny? Would you want God to operate with mandatory sentences for doing wrong? Be careful how you answer, for, according to the Bible, all of us have fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
Jesus’ Parable of the Prodigal Sons recorded in St. Luke 15, strikes people in various ways, repelling some and drawing others in. It’s certainly one of the best-known stories in all of Scripture. At its core, it is a marvelous story about God’s redeeming love. It was Thomas Wolff who warned us: you can’t go home again. That, of course, is true. But, oh, how the prodigal longed for home!
It’s not that home is different. It’s that the youngest prodigal son is different. He now understands that a life that begins and ends only in self-absorption, is a life of terrifying emptiness. Home is found only in relationships and the ultimate relationship is God. We find our way home to God when we cease saying “give me,” and come to God saying “make me” – mold me into the person you want me to be!
This coming Sunday I will share the second sermon in my current series entitled, “The Road to Ruin.” I encourage you to take a few moments this week and read this parable from Luke chapter 15 in a variety of Bible translations. Pay attention to all the various nuances, word distinctions, and the hints that Jesus gives about the nature of God. This parable has something to say to each of us.
Join me this Sunday!
P.S. Tomorrow is the National Day of Prayer—a day when Christians across the country stop to pray for our country, our leaders, our schools, and one another. Asbury’s sanctuary will be open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. if you’d like to pray here as it’s convenient for you and we will have meditation guides available. If you can’t make it to Asbury, simply find a quiet place to pray. Remember: “A concentrated mind and a sitting body make for better prayer than a kneeling body and a mind half asleep.” –C.S. Lewis