[PART 2 OF 4]
Over the course of the next few posts, we will be exploring the Parable of the Prodigal Son from three different perspectives:
- The perspective of the father
- The perspective of the prodigal son
- The perspective of the older brother
Go ahead and read through the parable again by clicking here. Then come back and continue reading.
THE FATHER’S PERSPECTIVE
First of all, what is your impression of the father in this parable? I would venture to say that he was a good father, an attentive father. He seems to be compassionate and loving towards his children. He was a good provider for his family.
He certainly did not deserve the lack of respect and appreciation shown by his youngest son. “Listen here, old man. I want my part of the inheritance, and I want it now. I am so ready to get out of this place.”
So, ask yourself these questions:
- Why do you think the father just gave in to his son’s demands?
- If you were the father in this story, would you have handled this situation any differently? How?
- What do you think was going through the father’s mind as he watched his son take off down the road?
If you are the father, this is a heartbreaking situation. You have raised your son to be hard working and responsible. You have loved him and provided for him and taken care of his every need. And now, not only does he spit in your face and demand his inheritance so that he can get as far away from home, and from you, as possible. Not only is your heart breaking from your son’s defiance and complete lack of appreciation. Besides all that, you know that he is making a bad decision. You know that he is headed for trouble. You fear that he will end up wasting his life, and his money, and perhaps get himself so deep in trouble that there is no getting out of it.
But what can you do? He won’t listen to you. You can’t make him see things from a realistic perspective. He has made up his mind, and nothing will change it.
There comes a time in every parent’s life when they have to let go. As Christian parents, our job is to teach and train our children as they grow up.
- Teach them right from wrong.
- Teach them to love and honor and respect God and His word.
We do that to prepare them for the day when they will step out from under the umbrella of our care, and step into the world as responsible adults. And when that day comes, we have to let them go. We no longer control their decisions.
That’s where we find this father and his son in Luke 15.
Have you ever known someone whose child completely turned away from their family and from the way they were raised? That is a devastating thing to experience. If you are that parent, all of your hopes and dreams for who they would become seem lost. The situation seems hopeless. But you never give up hoping that they will return.
You never give up hope.
Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” That verse has always kind of bothered me, because I have known of people who were trained as children in the way they should go, and when they became adults they did depart from it. So, how can this verse be true if those situations exist?
I heard this verse explained recently in a way that makes a whole lot of sense to me. If I train my children in the way they should go, they might choose to go a different way when they get out on their own, and they may even stay “gone” for a very long time. But the training I gave them as they were growing up will never leave them. It will always be in their hearts. They may run from it as fast and as far as they can. They may try to get away from it and may do everything in their power to not live by it. But if I trained them right when they were young, they cannot get away from that training, they cannot “depart from it”, no matter how hard they try. It will always be there in their hearts, reminding them, maybe even nagging them. And you never know when something might happen that will cause them to take pause and start listening again. That’s why you never give up hope.
We don’t know how long the prodigal son was gone. It was probably quite a while. Back home, his father was experiencing all the heartache and all the grieving that any parent experiences when a child turns away from home. Do you think the father expected to ever see his son again? I don’t know, but I’m sure the thought crossed his mind that he might not. In fact, the father himself states that it was as though his son was dead. That’s how deep his pain was. That’s how real his sense of loss was.
He waited, he watched, and he hoped. He never quit hoping. And he never quit watching. One day, while he was looking down that road as he had done probably every day since his son left; as he stared off into the distance hoping today would be the day; he saw a figure appear on the horizon. Could it be his son? Could this be the day he had been hoping for and praying for all this time.
He watched with eager anticipation. His heart began to beat faster as the figure drew closer. The anticipation was almost too much to bear. And then the figure got just close enough to be recognized. “It’s him! It’s my son! He has come home!”
I can’t even begin to imagine all the emotions that were about to explode inside this man as he began running down the road to welcome home his lost son.
But wait a minute. Let’s stop and think about this situation for just a moment. The last time the father saw his youngest son, the son’s attitude was one of defiance and rebellion. Now, seeing his son from a distance, the father doesn’t have any idea why the boy is returning home. For all he knows, the son is still defiant and unappreciative. Maybe he’s coming back to demand even more from his father.
The father, however, didn’t wait to find out. He was so overwhelmed with love for his son, nothing else mattered! He ran to meet his son, threw his arms around him, and kissed him.
The son had been rehearsing this little speech that he was going to give to his father, about having sinned against his Dad and even against heaven, about not being worthy to be called a son any more, about being content to simply be taken in as a servant. He had worked really hard on this speech, and he diligently recited it to his father, but I doubt that the father ever even heard it. He was too busy laughing, and crying, and hugging, and kissing. Notice in verse 22 that he didn’t even respond to his son’s little speech. Rather, he immediately began instructing his servants to prepare a celebration.
That brings up another question. Do you think it was appropriate for the father to throw a party to celebrate his son’s return, or do you think he should have punished the son for his defiance?
William Barclay wrote, “It should never have been called the parable of the Prodigal Son, for the son is not the hero. It should be called the parable of the Loving Father, for it tells us rather about a father’s love than a son’s sin.”
And that is what the parable teaches us about God. It tells of God’s love and His amazing capacity for forgiveness in the face of our most ridiculous sins.
Part 1: “The Prodigal Son”
Part 2: “The Prodigal Son (Father’s Perspective)”
Part 3: “The Prodigal Son (Prodigal’s Perspective)”
Part 4: “The Prodigal Son (Brother’s Perspective)“