â€œWhen he has found it, he carries it on his shoulders, rejoicing. When he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, â€˜Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!â€™ I tell you that even so there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance.â€ Â Â Luke 15:5-7 (WEB)
I hope you took some time to read Luke 15. When looking at Jesusâ€™ story of the â€˜prodigal sonâ€™ having read the verses before it in Chapter 15, it brings another perspective to the story.
The younger son is like so many of our own sons and daughters. He is like me when I was a teen. The son is rebellious. He wants what he wants. And he wants it now. He lives in the moment and his desires are not tempered by consequences that may come. The son is disrespectful of his father. He feels his father owes him the inheritance and he owes the father nothing in return. The son abandons the â€˜family valuesâ€™. Now there is a modern, often clichÃ© phrase that has numerous interpretations.
I grew up in a middle-class family in the Midwest. I lived in a small town where you could walk downtown on a summer evening for an ice cream or walk home from the municipal pool without worry that you would be harmed. Children went to ball games with their parents and freely played behind the stands, never to check in with them until the 7th inning stretch when they would meet at the concession stand. My family values were about mutual respect of others no matter their color or income. We all went to school together. We all worshiped in church together. I was taught that a job was a commitment and you did it to the best of your ability. Government support was given to those who were too ill to work, and that meant a major disability not a fake one. To go against these â€˜valuesâ€™ was not just a disgraceful reflection on my parents. It was totally un-cool for me!
When I went off to college in another state, I suspect that my motherâ€™s prayer life increased a great deal. I encountered people and opportunities in that big city that I never imagined. I ran along the edge of many of lifeâ€™s cliffs with my mother hanging on through prayer, asking God to keep me from going over the edge.
The younger son, too, walked away from love and safety of his home and ran toward the cliffs that seemed so deliciously dangerous and tempting. He quickly found that the safety net he had taken for granted was gone and consequences were rapid and destructive. He found himself among the pigs of the world. When he found himself lower than he could think would ever happen, he finally turned back to One he knew would still be there. The son did not think he would be forgiven or even allowed back into the home as a son. Once again, he was wrong.
â€œ…there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance.â€