(From the Sermon entitled “Ang mga Aral na Taglay ng Talinhaga ukol sa Alibughang Anak” dated June 13 and 16, 2013)
One of the prominent parables told by Jesus Christ is the parable of the Prodigal Son. It is a story of a son who claimed his inheritance from his father and left after. He then spent all his wealth in pleasurable ways. (Luke 15:11-13)
The word prodigal means “wastefully extravagant.”
When all his wealth was gone, a famine came and he experienced a miserable life. From there, he decided to come back to his father. When he came back, his father was so happy and welcomed him with a sumptuous feast. (Luke 15:16-24)
His older brother was angry of his return and did not attend the feast. He was angry because he had been serving his father for a long time but did not receive anything from his father. (Luke 15:25-32)
All of us can relate to this parable because all of us were once lost at a certain point of our lives. It’s because we have no knowledge of the will of the almighty God and His commands.
Our ancestors have been lost and did not understand the commandments of God. They just follow what they learned from their parents. (Malachi 3:7)
And as children, we constantly walk according to the ways of this wicked world, making us totally lost and away from God. (Ephesians 2:2-3)
What is the most important lesson that we need to learn on this parable?
The character of the father in the story is actually God’s attributes. God is merciful and full of forgiveness. Anyone who comes to Him, with a recompensed heart will be accepted and forgiven.
The Bible says, “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18)
It is a wrong notion that we see God as brute and authoritative Master sitting at His throne and always waiting for everyone to commit mistake and punishes anyone He catches.
God is a God of love.
He doesn’t take pleasure in any wrongdoing. But it is not right that we take advantage of His attributes because He is also a God of justice.
He forgives those who are worthy of His mercy and punishes those who are worthy to be rebuked.
In the parable, the son returned showing his humility and repentance from his former life. This is what God wants us to have. In fact, God wants us to know the true meaning of atonement and come before Him with a repentant heart, vowing to never return in our old ways of life.
The Bible says, “Have pity on me, O God, in your mercy; out of a full heart, take away my sin. Let all my wrongdoing be washed away, and make me clean from evil. For I am conscious of my error; my sin is ever before me.” (Psalms 51:1-3)
When we come to God, we needed to turn away from our sins. God accepted us in His house, which is the church of God (1 Timothy 3:15). \
In His house, we felt God’s love, care and protection as He treated us His children. We were cleansed through water and spirit through Baptism, which is the symbolical act of God’s forgiveness.
What did God want us to do so that we can be fully cleansed?
God expects that we walk according to the purpose of our calling. Since He has cleansed us with His holy blood, it should turn us away from our old ways and bring us more closely to Him through faith.
A true servant shows His faith in actions and in works. “But the just shall live by faith;” “and if he draws back,” “My soul is not pleased in him. But we are not of those withdrawing to destruction, but of faith, to the preservation of the soul.” (Hebrews 10:38-39)
Thus, we should walk according to His will and commands in all aspects of our lives.
Moreover, God expects that we will show greater love to others because He has shown us incredible amount of love and mercy. In one of His teachings, Jesus taught that the one who was forgiven much would show greater love than the one who was forgiven less. (Luke 7:40-43)
He said once to Apostle Peter, “But I have prayed for you, that your faith fail not. And when you are converted, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:32) Here, God wants us to be strong in faith so that we can strengthen those who are weak.
What else does this parable tell us?
If there were some who have turned away from God, and were able to come again through His loving grace and mercy, there were those who remained firm in their faith ever since they were called. Some are like Samuel, who at a young age started to serve God. Some are like Timothy, who became a preacher in his youth.
Having remained in faith does not mean we are unexposed to sins. We are all susceptible to sins and can feel weakness and guilt at times. In other words, we are all humans.
If we can control ourselves from committing sins, then we are blessed to have the strength to do so. However, that never gives us the right to judge others and mistreat those who commit errors in their faith.
Instead, God wants us to love them and help or encourage them so they will become strong too. “And receive him who is weak in the faith, but not to judgments of your thoughts. Who are you that judges another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. But he will stand, for God is able to make him stand.” (Romans 14:1, 4)
The reason for doing this is that we had received God’s forgiveness and mercy. That is enough to explain why we need to serve Him and others. His mercy allowed us to come near and serve Him and not because we have chosen it. “For He said to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” So then it is not of the one willing, nor of the one running, but of God, the One showing mercy.”(Romans 9:15-16)
In the book of Psalms, we can read, “Blessed is the one whom You choose, and cause to come near You. He shall dwell in Your courts; we shall be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, of Your holy temple.” (Psalms 65:4)
God’s calling and mercy is a gift, it is something that we must appreciate through offerings and thanksgiving. “For by grace you are saved, through faith, and this not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8)
Thus, it becomes our duty to help bring others closer to God through encouragement and preaching. We must try our best and do our part in sharing God’s words to our love ones, friends and families because we know by doing this; we can save them from the awaiting eternal punishment. “And pity some, making a distinction. But save others with fear, snatching them out of the fire, hating even the garment being stained from the flesh.” (Jude 22-23)