The Parable of the Lost Coin, The Parable of the Prodigal Son
by Steve Ritchey
In Luke 15, Jesus tells three stories to illustrate God’s love for us. The stories are about a lost sheep, a lost coin, and a lost son. These parables are familiar to most of us and in looking at them we often focus on what was lost. What might we learn if we were to shift our emphasis to the one seeking the lost?
“Prodigal” is a word we don’t often use, and when we do it’s usually in reference to the wayward son who squandered his inheritance on riotous living. If you look the word up, you’ll discover it can mean “extravagant.” Pastor and author Tim Keller, in his book The Prodigal God, uses that definition to redirect our attention from the son and his sulking elder brother to the father. Keller concludes that by doing so we learn that our Heavenly Father is extravagant toward us. He is a prodigal God!
We read in Luke 15:22 that when the father saw his returning son a long ways off, he ran to him – something that would have been unheard of in that culture. The father said to his servants: “…Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet...”
The best robe would have been the father’s very own, but he wanted his son to have it. The ring would have reflected the father’s authority and giving it to his son meant he was willing to trust all that he had to him. Servants went barefoot; only members of the family wore sandals. Each of these actions reflected the father’s extravagant grace toward his son.
As you think about the father’s actions, can you see God’s great love for you?
Like the father in the parable, your Heavenly Father always initiates. In love and humility, He runs to you again and again … even if you ignore Him.
He is always a giver. When the father gave his returning son his ring it was the equivalent of giving him his checkbook. In the same way, your Heavenly Father sacrificed his only son so that all your needs could be met.
By giving his son sandals, the father was bringing him back into the family. Likewise, your Heavenly Father places fellowship with you as His highest priority, and He is willing to do anything to enable you to take your place as his adopted son or daughter.
This Lent, as you remember what Jesus freely did in response to the Father’s love for you, may it remind you of what a great God you have and His extravagant love!
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your unconditional grace. Thank You that it invites, restores, and empowers fellowship with You. Thank you, Jesus, that you were willing to die for me and my sins so that I could be adopted into the family of God. Holy Spirit, remind me daily that because of Jesus the Father looks on me with compassion and sees in me the righteousness of Christ. Amen.
Steve Ritchey is a retired Air Force officer. He is blessed to be a husband, a father, and a grandfather. He is also honored to be a vestry member of The Falls Church Anglican.