The Greatest of These Is Love
The story of “The Prodigal Son” is an illustration of an important truth. As a story, a parable, it does not teach or explain the entire message of the Bible or even the Gospel. The story says nothing about faith in Jesus Christ or the cross or the work of the Spirit in the lives of those who are God’s children. Many have tried to make this one story all about God’s longing to save all of His “children,” if only they would come home. It is a nice sentiment, but it does not accurately explain the way God works in the lives and hearts of those who do repent and believe in Jesus Christ. The point of the parable must be found in understanding Jesus’ audience and what He was teaching them and us about God’s love and grace. What did Jesus want to teach them? What does He want to teach us? The words, “repent” and “repentance” in the two brief parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin lay the groundwork for the lesson Jesus teaches in the parable of “the prodigal son(s)”! Many people try to come to God with some kind of “offering,” bringing something they think might please God or make Him love them. Jesus teaches here that there is an essential ingredient that will always be present in the lives of those who come to know God as Father and who enter into a relationship of love with Him, understanding HIS love and loving Him back … repentance!! Much has been said about repentance in the years since Jesus told this parable, yet it seems we need to learn again that it is repentance that opens the door to a relationship with the Father. It cannot be otherwise, for until the heart, mind and will are turned the lost will remain lost, whether they find themselves outside the church or even in it. “There is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents!” (Luke 15:10).