Father’s Day: Perfect Father of Prodigal Son and Purposeless Son
When Senora Smart Dodd in Spokane, Washington. was listening to sermon on Mother’s Day, she felt that there should be Father’s Day too. In the Year 1910 (19 June)she organized Father’s Day to celebrate her father who was a single parent.
The Parable of Three persons
The Parable taught by Lord Jesus Christ is generally known as the Parable of the Prodigal Son. However, we read about three persons in the parable. There are some scholars who think the parable denotes a Spiritual journey of a Christian. All of us, first, begin as Younger Son, evolve into Elder Son and al last become like the Father. Without Christ we are like the Prodigal Son, alienated, far away from home, slave and in crisis. Then we come to Christ, but immature and slow in spiritual sensitivity and growth. We lack the first love, insensitive to desire of the Father, not bothered about lost brother, refuse to go in search for him, not interested or involved in celebration when the younger son returns. Then we gradually mature to be like the Father: Forgiving, reconciling, restoring and rejoicing.
- Open hands
In the Parable, the Father was very pragmatic. His younger son has grown, and is legally eligible to get his portion of the estate. Morally younger son may not deserve it and should not desire or demand it. Father could have waited for some more time to provide inheritance to his son. However, he was open handed – let go the control over his son. He did not want to hold his unwilling son by brute force or cunning persuasion.
Open hand means generosity. When the younger son returns in rags, starved, with nothing he welcomes him. The father generously gives him garment, ring and a great celebration. Generosity does not always represents money. We can be generous with our Word, Time, Love.
Father was even handed. He did not show favouritism when he allowed the younger son to go free or when he ordered for celebration when he came back. When Father felt that there is a misunderstanding in the mind of Elder son, he goes out of the house, where elder son was and invited him back home.
We need open hands even to receive. Fathers have to receive love, grace and mercy from Father God to give it to children. Closed hand denotes frustration and anger.
- Open arms
The open arms reminds us the open arms of Lord Jesus Christ hanging on the cross. His arms embraces all those who come to him. Like Lord Jesus Christ this Father in the parable was ready to embrace his wayward son.
Father ran and embraced his younger son. Why such hurry? He had to be proactive, as the villagers should catch him and excommunicate him. The villagers would like to give exemplary punishment to younger son to make him a warning to other young people in that village. Father ran to bring him home, before his elder son meets him and abuses him or turns him away.
Father kissed him. He demonstrated his love, forgiveness, security and restoration. Father wanted to keep his son closer to him. In the arms of the father, son would be safe, protected and provided for.
Open arms does not mean that he could be bullied or blackmailed. The elder son tried to intimidate father by refusing to come in. Father went outside to invite him, but refused to call off the celebration to please him.
- Open heart
Father had an open heart. Elder son did not want to forgive his younger brother, but father wanted to forgive him. Bearing the pain in his heart, he was offering forgiveness to his son. Father God experienced the pain of cross in His heart before the Son physically bore the brutality of humanity on the cross of Calvary.
Elder son was talking ill about his brother. He only provides information (that could be true or just imagination) that younger son lost all his inheritance by going to prostitutes. Father did not dig details of the past. He simply accepted the repentance and confession of the younger son even before it could be verbalized.
The father had open heart for the elder son too. When the elder son refused to come in, father went out to meet him. Pleaded with him to come in. His heart was open for both the sons.
- Open home
The home was not shut for the younger son. It was always open. It was open for the elder son also, but he preferred to stand outside. Younger son was welcome any time to come back. The doors of grace is open to accept all who repent and return home. God is preparing a great mansion with an Eternal Home for each of His children. When the home is complete, Lord Jesus Christ would come again to take his children to that Eternal home. (John 14:1)
Being a father is a noble task and calling. That to become like the Father in the Parable is like swimming upstream. The father had an unenviable task of caring for two sons who were poles apart. The younger gravitated towards sin while the elder son tended towards being over righteous. He was wise to provide freedom for the younger son to fail and patience and persuasion to nudge the elder son.
The sagacity, maturity and farsightedness is evident in the character of the Father in this parable. He was, Mentally mature to handle the situation. He did not lose his perspective, but thought through from a wider angle to allow the younger son have a long rope. He must have been confident that he would certainly return again.
Psychologically, he was strong and did not lose hope. Elder son might have thought that his younger brother may never return. Father was prepared and confident that he would receive his younger son with new garment, ring and feast. Father understood that the younger son, when faced with crisis will have no place to run, but to return. Father could have lost hope, depressed and given up, but held on to hope.
Father was emotionally mature. He must have felt sorrowful seeing his younger son go away. However, he did not emotionally blackmail him to keep him at home. His emotions were balanced and matured. When the younger son returned he ordered festivities. As the news reached that elder son was angry and standing out, he rushed out as he loved him also with equal measure.
Spiritually father was mature and sober. He had the grace, and love to forgive the wayward son. The younger son was restored to the status of son. It was not a private deal, but a public celebration. His forgiveness awarded to younger son would not be jeopardized by cranky act of the elder son.
The picture of the father in the parable reflects the character of the Heavenly Father. Fathers could make home heaven if they imitate the Father in Heaven and grow in his likeness.