We’ve all read the parable. We’ve heard numerous teachings on it, and I would venture to guess I’m not the only one who has been asked the question, whether in a sermon style teaching or in a group bible study: “Who are you in this parable?”
Many see themselves as The Prodigal Son himself: having walked away from the Father, pursued things of the world, only to discover them all to be a lie. This is the one who praises God for His incomprehensible grace. Who proclaims he was lost and is now found. Who gives all glory to the Father who never gave up on him. The Father that watched daily, patiently waiting for him to return to his senses.
Then there are those parents who can relate with this Father: the ones holding on to hope for that wayward child. The parent that aches and grieves, offering prayers day and night, watching expectantly. To this parent, the parable offers reassurance that God can save, even to the uttermost. Even when the sinner has knowingly chosen to walk away, setting aside the cross and taking up the desires of world. You may be that parent.
Or you may associate more closely with the brother. You know, the ‘Other Son.’ The one that despised his Father for welcoming his brother home with celebration and a fatten calf after squandering his inheritance. The son who felt he ‘deserved’ so much more. This one proclaiming himself to have followed the commands of the Father to a T, never wavering in his service, always doing what was good and expected. He looks down on his brother as the sinner that he is: no grace, no love, no compassion or understanding. My mind puts this brother in the place of the ‘Rich Young Ruler.’ The brother proudly declares he has kept all the commandments from his youth. The Father gently responds in the form of a question: “You too have an inheritance, Son. Will you sell all that you have and give to the poor?” But when the son hears this, he becomes very sorrowful because his inheritance is much.
I have pondered the question time and again, “Who am I in this parable?” Recently the answer I received was one I never would have expected. The person I clearly saw isn’t even in this parable, but could easily have received a starring role. You see, as the son wasted his possessions with prodigal living, God was at work. As the son found himself in the middle of a famine, desiring to eat the food he fed to swine, God was at work. As the son began coming to his senses, seeing clearly the foolishness of his ways and the need for his Father, God was at work.
BUT, what would have happened if…
What if someone had stepped in and helped this son? What if a brother, friend, or someone simply passing by had brought him food, given him money, or offered him a place to sleep?
And this friend, this brother, this wanna be savior is the role I would fill had there been written a part for the character. Because I am that person stepping in to save the world. I am that person wanting to make everything ok and assure no one suffers. I am a savior hindering the work of The Savior. Yes, I am an enabler, and I am convicted to the core!
So maybe you’ve been asked countless times as I have. Even so, I ask you again: who are you in this parable? You may be surprised at what the Holy Spirit reveals to you as you seek to find the answer.
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