“We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!” (Luke 15:32 NLT)
The story of the lost son is part of a trilogy: the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son, all of which are found in Luke 15. Jesus often used stories to convey spiritual truth that would be hard to understand otherwise. So, what is the point of these stories? Lostness!
The stories Jesus told are called “parables” in the Bible, and each parable has one main point. They are not allegories, which can attach meaning to each part of a story. The point of the lost sheep story is that the sheep was found. It’s the same with the coin and with the son. If the sheep, coin, and son hadn’t been found, they would have remained lost.
However, it’s interesting that in the first two stories, the shepherd and the woman searched diligently for that which was lost, but in the story of the lost son, the father didn’t go looking for the son, he waited at home. Why is that?
Sheep and coins have no capacity to find their way home. Humans do. Humans can think and reason and make decisions. Why? Because God has given us those abilities, but He’s also given us the will to decide for ourselves. Why is that important? Because human beings can’t find their way home to God if they don’t understand and realize they’re lost.
So, what if the “lost” son never realized he was lost? Like the sheep and coin, he would have remained lost. “Yes,” someone may wonder, “but he was still a son. His ‘sonship’ would never be changed or lost.” And that’s true, but, in a spiritual sense, sonship doesn’t equal salvation.
There’s a sense in which every human being is a “child” of God through creation, but that doesn’t mean we have a relationship with Him. Jesus said in John 3:5, in his conversation with Nicodemus: “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can only reproduce human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life.” In this context, “water” is referring to natural human birth, not baptism.
In the story of the two brothers, both had been “born of water,” but neither had been born again of the spirit. The “prodigal” son was just as lost at home as he was in the far country, just as his older brother was. Nothing changed in the younger son’s standing with his father until “he finally came to his senses” and made the choice to return home.
There’s no indication that the older brother ever made that choice, illustrating that we can never leave “home” and still be just as lost as if we did. How does that translate for us? We can be a “good” person, have high moral standards, not participate in the “sins of the world,” and still be as lost as someone who has done it all.
So, what if the son who ran to the far country had never found his way home? He would still be just as lost as he was when he left! Geography has no bearing on lostness. We can be just as spiritually lost at “home” as in the pursuit of the pleasures of this world.
We can be part of a church family, believing all the right things and still be as lost as someone who’s never heard the name of Jesus. The only way to find our way home to the Father is to come to our “senses”; to realize we’re “lost” without a saving knowledge of Jesus. It’s not WHAT we know that saves us, it’s WHO! Apart from Jesus there is no salvation, no matter what we know or where we are.
If you’re not certain you’ve found your way home to the Father, check this link: The Bridge to God | Ron Hutchcraft Ministries, Inc.
Blessings, Ed 😊
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