Even people who are not familiar with the Bible know many of its stories. Of all the teachings of Jesus the two most well known are, probably, the parables of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son. If someone is kind to strangers, they are often called a “good Samaritan.” If a child is wayward from the wishes of his/her parents, he/she is referred to as a “prodigal.” While I wish more of Jesus’ teaching were part of our vernacular, even these two well-known stories are generally misunderstood. If you were in church for our study of Luke 10:25-37 you may remember we said that the story is not about being more like a kind passerby to those in need, it is about Jesus, the Great Samaritan, who is kind to us as we are in desperate need.
A similar thing has happened with the story commonly known as the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Did you know the word prodigal does not refer to those who are in rebellion or delinquent, but to those who spend money and use resources extravagantly? It’s true, look it up. The parable gets its name because of the son’s wasteful living, but its purpose is not to teach that God delights when the reckless repent, although that is very true. The truth Jesus teaches through the parable is that God is extravagant in giving us grace through Jesus Christ. This is the reason that Tim Keller titles his short book on the parable The Prodigal God (I cannot recommend this book highly enough). In granting salvation through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, God devotes His riches to us and gives graciously of Himself. He is the main character of the story, the prodigal, the extravagant spender.
This Sunday we will talk about the mercy of God toward both the rebellious and the devoted. I encourage you to bring a friend who needs to know that has given extravagantly in Jesus. I can’t wait to worship with you!
For the sake of His name,