As we listen-in to the Master story teller himself this coming weekend … I’d like for you to consider the three main characters whom Jesus describes in his parable of “The Prodigal Son” (Luke 15:11-32). With whom do you most closely identify? I think most of us probably say it’s the Younger Brother (a.k.a. the prodigal kid). Right? Cuz we know all-too-well how we too, in all of our self-centeredness, have often been seduced by the tempting voices and choices of the world … shamefully telling the folks to “drop dead” … leaving home … and then regretfully finding ourselves in a distant country. “Toto, I’ve a feelin’ we aren’t in Kansas anymore.”
Or … maybe some of us identify with the Father Figure in this parable: those of us who know the heart-ache of a love that’s not been seemingly “good enough.” Losing a child in some-way-or-another and left waiting on the front porch. Feeling half-dead as we look with deep longing into an empty horizon, hoping-against-hope … “Over the river and through the woods.”
Or could it be … could it be … that Jesus is calling us to identify as equally with one of the characters who doesn’t even make Rembrant’s version of the parable. Doesn’t even make the “front page”? How subtle are the thoughts and feelings that go with this family member. And how important it is for each of us, as members of Christ’s church, to identify with him. For actually, he’s the one for whom Jesus’ tells the story in the first place, with the face of a Pharisee (cf. Luke 15:1-3). Hmm. “Why does Jesus hang out with all of these sinners?” (Luke 15:2) … “Bazinga!” Come and see.