Ep.146: Luke 15:The Man Who Wished His Father Was Dead.
Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray With Me”.
One of Jesus’ lost-and-found stories in Luke 15 is about a young man who wished his father was dead. The father lived with two sons on the family farm. The younger son found farm life tedious–a daily grind of chores assigned by a workaholic father who didn’t have a life. The son fantasized about getting a life of his own. All he needed was a bit of money to take him to a happening city.
Unfortunately, the father had to die before the lad could inherit his money, so he said, “Father, I want my inheritance NOW instead of waiting for it.” Surprisingly, his father rolled over, played dead, and gave him the inheritance.
The son took his money and drew up his personal Declaration of Independence, claiming his right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. He dissolved his association with the farm, the family, and his father’s values and opinions. He moved to a country far away and spent his whole fortune on wine, women, food, music, drugs, clothes, and friends. Then he ran out of money and friends at the beginning of a famine. He took a job at a pig farm to survive. His rate of pay? He got to eat what the pigs ate.
Soon the son thought, “Why should I live like a pig? Back home even the servants have good food. Maybe I’ll go home and say, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and you. I’m not worthy to be your son. Can you make me a servant?’”
When his father saw him coming, he ran and hugged him, ignoring the son’s would-you-let-me-be-a-servant speech. He restored him to full sonship, and threw a party saying, “My son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”
I have three observations on this story. In 1886 the philosopher Nietzsche declared “God is dead”. Raised in a strict one-parent German home, in an atmosphere of gloomy Lutheran piety, Neitzsche came to despise the church that used God’s name to impose a cheerless lifestyle. He despised the German politics that used God’s name to build a self-serving empire. He despised the rationalism that used God’s name to oppress minds.
Like the prodigal, Nietzsche declared his independence from God and home. He went into a far philosophical country where many still follow him today.
A second observation is that our fantasies about the far country are always better than the country we arrive in. Marx and Lenin built a communist utopia in a country far from God, but the place they arrived in was more confining and repressive than the one they left.
Our western civilization pursues freedom and justice through education, reason, science, and technology. But our brave new world still has mass shootings, populist leaders, rampant consumerism and massive public debt. This is not the way we imagined it. Perhaps we don’t have the wisdom and resources to build the country of our dreams.
My third observation about the story is the fact that the owner of the farm did die. A man named Jesus who made the world died one day on a cross because the religious and political leaders had no room for him in their country. But when Jesus returned from the grave and went back to heaven, his Father threw a party saying, “My son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”
Our father, with John Greenleaf Whittier we pray,
Blow, winds of God, awake and blow
the mists of earth away.
Shine out, O Light divine, and show
how wide and far we stray.
In the words of the Anglican General Confession,
We have wandered and strayed from your ways. . .
We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts.
We have offended against your holy laws.
Our father, a thousand times we have strayed from you, and a thousand times we have come home. Bring us safely to the time of death, and to our last great homecoming to you. On that day, may we hear you say,
Rejoice with me!
My sons and daughters were dead and now they are now alive.
They were lost but now they are found.
I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.