The Way of the Warrior Week 15 - The Warrior's Journey®

The Way of the Warrior Week 15

Author: Nathan Werner,

. Photo by is licensed under CC By 2.0

The Way of a Father

Since Fatherhood is such a profound theme in Scripture, I want to focus again on that issue.  Jesus spotlighted this subject in his parable about the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-20). In our last devotion we put our attention on Abraham and his son Isaac, an Old Testament narrative. Now we view some New Testament thoughts.

In his ministry, Jesus was getting criticism from the Pharisees. They complained about him healing on the Sabbath, or they grumbled to him for hanging out with people like you and me: “And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, ‘Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?'” (Lk. 5:30). The Pharisees were pretentious ‘do-gooders’ who moralized about externally obeying the law.  They squawked at Jesus again about his companions: “Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him.” (Lk. 15:1).  You and I would have liked to hang out with Jesus…but the religious elites looked down their noses at him.

So, Jesus gave these spiritual snobs several parables about the value of those who were lost. The first one was 15:3-7, about a shepherd losing a sheep, leaving 99 others, and finding the lost one.  The shepherd rejoices: “And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.”(Lk. 15:5).  Then the shepherd wants others to rejoice with him: “And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’“(Lk. 15:6).  Then Jesus makes the application: “Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” (Lk. 15:7).

Next, Jesus talks of a woman who loses a coin.  The same theme gets repeated about rejoicing over recovering something lost.  He makes the application: “Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Lk. 15:10).  The Pharisees should be rejoicing, but they seemed to be sucking lemons.

Jesus now uses a third parable about a father and two sons (15:11-32).  Two sons, one a Prodigal, and one a Pharisee. The Prodigal pursues pleasure and sensuality, the Pharisee pursues external religious performance.  The father loves them both, he seeks relationship with each of them, but they both reject his perspective.

First the Prodigal son tells his dad: “‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them.” (Lk. 15:12).  The father gives up property for the benefit of their relationship.  Your Heavenly Father will do the same with you. Relationship is more important than resources.  The Prodigal’s father neither condones, nor condemns his son. The father maintains his own moral nature, not compromising with the son, but trying to keep him.  He let’s the consequences of his son’s choices bear fruit. It is the same with our Heavenly Father.

The Prodigal does a face-plant, blowing his cash, catting around, partying – you get the picture.  Then, when he had reached rock bottom,  he remembered his father’s moral character – one of care and generosity: “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger!” (Lk. 15:17).  Dad was a pretty gracious and generous guy! The key: he came to himself.  Tough times spiritually woke him up!

“I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.” (Lk. 15:19).  He becomes humble and repentant. That is coming into a right mind. So he sets out towards home.  He rehearses his speech: “…arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.” (Lk. 15:20).  Dad was not vindictive or angry, he was instead overjoyed, valuing their relationship over behavior.  The son had repented. The father didn’t change, and live like the son.  The kindness of the father allowed his love to flow with compassion to his son. Because of this, the son could live in fellowship with him.

Well, how about the other son?  “Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound” (Lk. 15:27).  This is the Pharisaical son, the one who performs and who externally does the right thing.  Certainly he’d act like his dad, right?

“But he was angry and refused to go in”  (Lk. 15:28).  No compassion here, he has a hissy fit. What does the dad do?  “His father came out and entreated him…” (Lk. 15:28).  This son hated his brother’s sin and misdeeds so much that he could not fathom how the father could put up with him.  He also noted that he had not received such valued treatment from his father. He also fumed about the wrongdoing of his brother: “when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!” (Lk. 15:30).  The father’s love irritates this son!

The father says that his behavior is reasonable: “And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.'”  (Lk. 15:31).  I have not left you!  I’m available to you! My love, attention, and affection is always in front of you, take it!

He adds: “It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.” (Lk. 15:32).  It is the right thing to receive your brother back from being spiritually dead.  The father reveals that worthiness is not earned! Rather, grace is appropriate for one who spiritually wakes up!  And grace is costly! The father gave the prodigal the best robe, and a feast, (Psalm 23:5) not because he earned it, but only by kindness.

So, the father was not like either of his sons.  But he sought each son. He went to meet each son, even when each son was in error.  The father remained sanctified, he did not do what the Prodigal, nor what the Pharisaical son did.  He used wisdom with the Pharisaical son, who thought good behavior would win the father’s approval. He used magnificent grace on the Prodigal son, who earned his brother’s disapproval, but won his father’s love.

Are you like the Father?  Or the Prodigal? Or the Pharisee?  Choose to be like the Dad. He is the image of our very kind, and approachable Heavenly Father.  In addition, you might be the model that your children and grandchildren will equate with the character of God.  Fulfill that responsibility with the kind of values of the Prodigal’s father.

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