Luke 15:32 - Home at Last
We had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is foundLuke 15:32
In the parable of the prodigal son, the younger brother took the inheritance from his father and went to a foreign land. After he squandered all his money in wild living, in desperation he found work taking care of unclean pigs.
In this situation his thoughts go back to his father's home. There the hired men and women never went hungry and they enjoyed security. He begins to realize what a fool he has been to leave home and strike out on his own. Being young and foolish, he thought he could manage without his father. He left home thinking that he could satisfy his deepest needs by pursuing the material things of this world. How wrong he had been, for now he is completely abandoned in this world and there is nowhere to turn in his greatest hour of need. Jesus says that the young man now comes to his senses and remembers how good it was in his father's home. At home his father always supported him and provided for all his needs. If he had remained at home he would not have ended up in this miserable situation with the pigs.
Cornelius Plantinga writes in Engaging God's World that we often long to go back to a time when we felt peace or security in our life. It is not uncommon for us to speak about the good old days with nostalgia. We think that if only we could go back to that place, then life would be good again. And yet we can never recreate those memories. If we go back to the place of those wonderful memories, it is never quite like we thought it was. We are disappointed because it does not give us the same feeling or the same sense of fulfillment that we had in the past. We seem to be pursuing an elusive goal.
Now this young man remembers how good it was in his father's house and he longs to return home. Can reality ever live up to his memory? He decides to return and is even willing to go back as a hired hand. But when the father sees him at a distance, he comes running to meet his son and throws his arms around him and kisses him. After everything he has done to his father, the son never expected such a homecoming. In his love the father takes him back, even though he is not worthy.
Immediately the father commands that the best robe be given to him, and a ring be put on his finger — likely to indicate that he belongs to the family. He commands that sandals be placed on his feet and the fattened calf — which is reserved only for very special occasions — be killed. He comes home, chastened and ashamed because of what he has done, but to his astonishment his father throws a great feast because he says,
This son of mine was dead and is alive; he was lost and is found.
The son is home at last, and what a homecoming it is! Jesus told this parable to reveal the kind of Father we have in heaven. Jesus teaches that we will never be disappointed in our longing for our heavenly home. In fact, we cannot even begin to imagine what it will be like when we finally enter into the home of our Father. Remember, Jesus told his disciples that he goes to heaven to prepare a place for them in his Father's house.
Our hearts will never find rest in earthly or material things. We will only find rest when we turn our hearts to our Father in heaven. When we come to the Father in Jesus Christ, he welcomes us into his home with open arms. We do not deserve this because we have been such good children, but he welcomes us because he has purchased us with the blood of Christ. Therefore on that day when we enter into the glory of God's eternal kingdom, we won't be disappointed. With our heavenly Father all our longing will be satisfied, and we will find eternal rest. So we may pray as the early Church father Augustine once did:
O Lord, you made us for yourself,
and our heart is restless until it rests in you.