Prodigal, Father, Brother, or… Servant?
“The pattern of the prodigal is: rebellion, ruin, repentance, reconciliation, restoration.” -Edwin Louis Cole
A friend of mine, Lina Thompson, posed the question on Facebook “Who Do you identify most with in this parable? The lost son, the older brother, or the father? Luke 15” This was a great question which forced me to re-read the parable of the lost son. Edwin Cole described the story so well in so few words. Christ used it to show a complete vision of God’s love and the unfortunate truth of humanity.
This parable has three characters that are the primary focus. The lost son (prodigal) that chose to take his inheritance and ran away from his father to live a wild life, which ultimately led to his ruin. Then, there is the Father, the man who gave his son his inheritance, allowed him to flee, live a hard life, but the entire time he waited for his son with open arms to return. Finally, there is the older brother that heard of his brother’s return and was upset that his Father would still throw a party for his rebellious nature.
The character that is not mentioned enough is the slave. This slave that was bringing the supplies for the party had to break the news to the older brother that the party was being thrown for the lost son returning back to His Father. He had to share the reason for the celebration and why it was occurring. He was the one who had to do some work to prepare for the celebration, but it wasn’t his party nor was he the one being returned to. He was just the guy getting ready, sharing the good news, and explaining the purpose. Not a major role in the parable, but oh so important.
I shared my answer to my friend’s question by saying “I used to compare myself to the lost son, but now I look at myself as the servant sharing the purpose of the party.” I was lost, I recognize that, I know I was rebellious and I needed His forgiveness. However, I came to know Him, I have come to accept His love and I know I am called to be His. Now, I am called to share His message of unconditional love. When someone asks “Why do you do what you do?” I get to share “Because there is a party we are all invited to and I want you to know about the One that is throwing it and why.”
We all have a role we can relate to in this story. Whether we have been rebellious, forgiving, or unforgiving we can relate to this parable. However, I believe, the goal of the disciple should probably be the servant. We may go through the “son” stages, but to be the servant should be our aim. Ever ready to bring the supplies, set up the tables, and share the good news to those who are wondering…why?
Question: Who do you relate to in this story?