A couple of days ago, I got an email from a close friend of mine. He was pondering the story of the Extravagant Father (also known as the story of the Prodigal Son).
Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living….
“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.'”
Here’s the question that my friend was working through: “Which of the characters in this story am I?”
- The son who left? – He asked for his inheritance before its time and then spent it foolishly, leaving himself with nothing. Broken.
- One of the friends who abandoned the destitute son? – They enjoyed the company of their “friend” until his money ran out and then abandoned him.
- The pig farmer? – He valued his pigs more than his hired hand, the son.
- The son who stayed? – He took up his father’s offense and was bitter the whole time. He didn’t understand that his father was the real inheritance. Proud.
- The father? – Patiently, faithfully waiting for his son to return. Eager to forgive and restore. Humble.
- One of the servants? – Responsible for carrying out the wishes of the father but without any input.
- A bystander? – An outsider. Probably confused about the whole thing.
And that’s the question to me and to you as well. Which one are you?