One of the earmarks of the holiday season is that many people are engaged in parties. Christmas parties, office parties, New Year’s Eve parties…and the list goes on.
Some of Jesus’ most powerful stories have to do with parties and wedding banquets, and I particularly love His parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32). One of the misconceptions about this powerful story is that its focus is on how the prodigal got out of his pigpen. While that is important, the main objective of the story is to beckon us back to our Heavenly Father’s house, where He’s throwing a party in our honor!
Let’s review the story for a moment, and I think you’ll see what I mean…
Missing Out on the Father’s Love
Jesus started by describing a wealthy man who had two sons. He greatly loved both of them, but each son had something blocking his ability to experience the father’s love.
The younger son took his share of the inheritance and quickly squandered it in wild living. Not until his money ran out and he spent time in a pigpen did the young man come to his senses and return home.
The amazing part of the story is that instead of scolding and punishing his wayward son, the father threw him a huge party. Do you see how crazy this seems? The young son was a partier, and when he returned home, his father threw him the biggest party the boy had ever seen!
I’m sure the prodigal would have returned home a lot sooner if he realized the love, acceptance, and blessings that awaited him there. He had spent all his money on partying that could never satisfy, when all along, his father was ready to throw him a party that would change his life forever.
Let this sink in for a moment. Perhaps there’s a part of your life—maybe even a hidden part—that is a lot like the young son. You’ve been raised to know better, but you’ve strayed from home and left the values you know are true.
It’s possible that you’ve hidden your tracks so well that no one even knows the dark areas of your life keeping you away from your Heavenly Father’s party. Perhaps you’re addicted to porn…using illegal drugs…hooked on gambling…or covering up an affair. You’re hoping no one will find out, but your secret is taking a huge toll.
My friend, you don’t have to continue walking in the shadow land of compromise and sin. You can acknowledge what your Heavenly Father already knows. He knows all about your pigpen, and He loves you anyway. As soon as you begin your journey home, he will run to embrace you, undeterred by the stench of where you’ve been.
There’s no need to delay. You don’t even have to clean yourself up before returning to the Father’s house. Come just as you are!
Regaining Your High Calling
As beautiful as it is that the young son left the pigpen and was accepted by his father, the story is not primarily about getting out of sin—it’s about getting into a new life of purpose and celebration in the house of your Father. When this son witnessed the joyous music and dancing coming from his father’s house, something resonated in his heart. His vision for life returned, and he remembered who he was—not just a servant, but a son.
I’m convinced that many people hang out in the pigpens of life because they’ve lost sight of who God has created them to be. They’re like someone with amnesia, no longer remembering who they really are.
So let me ask you…
Do you still remember the dream or calling God placed in your heart many years ago? Or has it become a distant memory, needing the fresh wind of the Holy Spirit to rekindle the fire and remind you once again of your high calling?
An Unexpected Twist
If you know the story, you remember that Jesus’ parable of these two sons took an unexpected twist at the end. While the prodigal came home to a warm embrace and a lavish party, the older brother refused to enter into the father’s house to join the celebration.
How sad! While his young brother had once risked missing out on his destiny because of sin and worldliness, the older brother remained in bondage because of religion, self-righteousness, and unforgiveness—chains that are often much more difficult to break.
So be careful if you smugly look down on your brothers and sisters who’ve been hanging out in pigpens. Unless you humble yourself and get a better attitude, they might end up entering into the party, while you’re left outside pouting!
You see, the invitation to this party is all about grace, not perfection. You’ll never be “good enough” to enter in. As the great old hymn says, “Just as I am, without one plea, but that Thy blood was shed for me, and that Thou bidst me come to Thee, O Lamb of God, I come, I come.”
My friend, you don’t have to await a Christmas or New Year’s party to start celebrating. Your Father has scheduled a party in your honor, and it can start today.
If you listen closely, the music has already started. Don’t let anything keep you from entering in.