It’s Christmas next Sunday. Our thoughts once again turn to the coming to earth in human form of our Lord Jesus Christ and what it means for each of us.
“The Return of the Prodigal Son” is Henri Nouwen’s thoughtful reflection on various aspects of that parable which Jesus told, found in Luke 15:11-32.
In one chapter, Nouwen reflected upon the mystery of Jesus Himself having become the prodigal son for our sake. He pointed out that Jesus left the house of His heavenly Father, came to a foreign country, gave away all He had, and returned through the cross to His Father’s home. But unlike in the parable, Jesus did it not as the rebellious son, but as the obedient son, sent out to bring home all the lost children of God.
Nouwen quoted another writer, who reflected on Jesus as such a prodigal son, in this poetic piece about the Son and the Father God, which is drawn from various Bible passages we will be familiar with :-
“He, who is born not from human stock, or human desire or human will, but from God Himself, one day took to Himself everything that was under His foot- stool and He left with his inheritance, his title of Son, and the whole ransom price.
He left for a far country …where He became as human beings are and emptied Himself. His own people did not accept Him and His bed was a bed of straw! Like a root in arid ground, He grew up before us, He was despised, the lowest of men, before whom one covers His face. Very soon, He came to know exile, hostility, loneliness . . . After having given away everything in a life of bounty, His worth, His peace, His light, His truth, His life . . . after having lost Himself among the lost children of house of Israel, spending His time with the sick, with the sinners, and even with the prostitutes… He voluntarily dressed Himself as being abandoned by His Father, …He cried out from the cross on which He was nailed: ‘I am thirsty.’ He was laid to rest in the dust and the shadow of death. And there, on the third day, He rose up from the depths of hell… burdened with the crimes of us all, He bore our sins, our sorrows He carried. Standing straight, He cried out: ‘Yes, I am ascending to my Father, and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ”
In the above turn-around account of Jesus as the Prodigal Son, we see the contrast in our Saviour. He left heaven’s glory to carry out His Father’s will. He went not to seek his own pleasure and fulfilment in life. God let Him go, knowing the pain and suffering Jesus would have to endure for the sake of fallen mankind, in order to obey Him. Indeed Jesus’s love is prodigious.. We don’t deserve such great love and sacrifice under any circumstances. Nothing we have done or can ever do will ever be enough to justify us before God.
Indeed, our Father’s love is prodigious… in that He sent His only begotten Son, as the sinless sacrifice for our sin.
This Christmas, revel afresh in the Father and the Son’s great love for us which enables us prodigal sons and daughters to be brought back and fully restored in His house. Let us also ask the Holy Spirit to draw us into deeper intimacy with our Father God and His Son.
A blessed Christmas to you.
By Daniel John, Elder (YCKC Bulletin 17&18 December 2016)