The parable of the prodigal son is more than just a story about forgiveness and reconciliation for those who have turned from God. The meaning of the prodigal son can be found in looking at the lives of both of the two sons in the story. The younger son was distant and estranged from his father but so too was the older son. Both needed restoration to the heart of their father.
“And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him”. Luke 15:20 NKJV
Just like the prodigal son in the bible, when we turn towards our Father, He is ready with open arms to receive us even when we are still “a great way off” (Luke 15:20 NKJV). Our Heavenly Father eagerly awaits our return regardless of how far or how long we have turned from Him. Like the prodigal son, maybe we have squandered opportunities or relationships and now feel lonely, lost and distant from God and others. Our Heavenly Father’s words to us are “come home”.
“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ”. Ephesians 2:13 NKJV
This provision for reconciliation to God through the perfect gift of Jesus is what the angels were excited about when they announced the good news to the shepherds. This hope of reconciliation is what our heavenly Father desires; to see our hearts restored to Him.
In the story of the prodigal son, the younger son needed restoration to his father, but so too did the older son. The older son in the parable was out working the fields (Luke 15:25) and was distant in his heart towards his father. As Christians sometimes it is easy to find ourselves slipping into this behaviour and mind-set of the older son. We can be so focused on performing for God and trying to fulfil a list of “to dos” while our hearts remain distant from the love of our Father. We are toiling in the fields instead of living in the house of His Presence.
The Father is calling us to come in from the fields and into His house. We are called to be in the place of His presence. This is our home. As we abide in His presence and are aligned with His heart beat, we begin to co-labour with Him in the fields and impact this world for His Kingdom.
Regardless of whether we identify with the older son who was striving to do right but living empty and distant from his father, or the younger son who turned and ran away; both sons needed their hearts restored to their father. Wherever we are, our Heavenly Father calls us home and waits for us with arms wide open.