No doubt the “distant country” is a key element as we process the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32), the foundation text for the AHA series we are currently in as a church. One part of that is understanding what the “distant country” really is, which is far more than geographical. Another is understanding how we get there because the elder brother arrived in the “distant country” without ever leaving home. No doubt, both the younger son and the older one made deliberate choices leading to their isolation from the Father. Reflecting on how we do the same is fertile soil for AHA moments.
But Jesus’ teaching didn’t happen in a vacuum. The Parable of the Prodigal is intertwined with the Parable of the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin, found in the first 11 verses of Luke 15. What is interesting to me is how differently sheep get lost. The younger son made a deliberate and intentional choice to move away from the Father…he sold out and moved away, way away. But a sheep gets lost differently. Usually it is just one clump of grass at a time. They just move from one good batch of grazing grass to another and then look up and find themselves lost, not knowing how to get back. Because of the sinful nature we were born with, we have the same propensity. Some of us have found ourselves lost, a long way from the Father, without ever making a deliberate choice to do so. We have lived without examination or reflection, proceeding from one clump of life grass to the next, carried along by life and all its demands, and find ourselves lost. Good thing the Father is out looking for us, ready to meet us where we are, and lead us (albeit willingly on our end) back home.
So how have you gotten to the “distant country”? What response to the Father are you giving to move back home? In what way do you need to “come to your senses?”
I look forward to the rest of our journey through AHA.