Today, as part of my Bible reading, I got to read Luke 15. It starts off with all kinds of “bad,” “undesirable,” people surrounding Jesus and following Him, while the religious people all scoff at Jesus for allowing them to do so.
Jesus then breaks into three stories.
The first is about a guy who loses one sheep. Please understand this is not an inexperienced little lamb, but an adult sheep who should have known better about wandering off and getting lost. It made a choice to walk away. The owner went and searched for it, found it, and was joy filled. He put it on his shoulder, carried it home, called his neighbors and friends, and threw a party. because as Jesus said,
“In the same way there is more happiness in heaven because of one sinner who turns to God than over ninety-nine good people who don’t need to.” —Luke 15:7
Jesus then tells a second story about a lady who lost a lost coin. She lit a lamp, swept the entire house thoroughly, found the coin, called her neighbors, and threw a celebration—because as Jesus said,
“In the same way God’s angels are happy when even one person turns to Him.” —Luke 15:10
Then Jesus tells a third story about a runaway son, who asked disrespectfully for his share of the inheritance, while his dad was still alive, mind you. The son ran off, spent everything he had, ran into bad times, repented, and went back home. On his arrival, his Dad threw a celebration and the older brother didn’t like it one bit.
We know the story as the Prodigal Son. And of course, as I’ve said many times, we are always the good guy in Jesus story, never the bad guy.
We most definitely are not the religious people at the beginning of the story who turned their noses up at Jesus who was friendly to sinners and ate with them. And we’re definitely not the older brother who was angry the dad was happy his son returned home.
So, we must be the son who ran away, came to his senses and returned to Jesus, right? Is that who we identify with?
If that’s true, have you ever asked yourself what the word “Prodigal” means? Because I think a good number of us Christians might still be a little prodigal! Prodigal refers to someone who is wastefully or recklessly extravagant. And you thought it referred to someone who was rebellious, or a runaway, right?
No, it refers to someone who has been given so much, only to waste it all.
Here’s my word of encouragement for you today
You and I have been blessed tremendously, over and over again with the greatest gift man could ever have received – God’s love and grace through His Son, Jesus Christ. He purchased us with His own blood.
You are extravagantly blessed. So don’t waste it, but be an extravagant blessing to someone today.
I’ve wasted so much time, energy and effort on the things of this world. Forgive me and find me again! In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.
—Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen
Mark was Spiritual Director for VdC from 2016 to 2019. He's written many of the devotions, especially the Devote and Affirm series, found on this website.