The Parable of the Prodigal Son……..with a different ending
by Mike M.
This story is for those who feel that what they have done is so awful and so bad that there is no way God could still love them. It’s for those who think they are worthless, and not worthy of God’s love. There are also those who feel that God is so disappointed over what they have done that He can never look at them the same way again with love and compassion. This story is for them.
Our story begins with the prodigal son at the point he “came to his senses.” (vs. 17) In Alcoholics Anonymous and other recovery groups, they call it “finding your true bottom.” That’s the point at which he woke up and all the money was gone, his “friends” had left him, and he was broke and hungry. He got a job feeding pigs, and envied the pigs because they had food to eat. “Wow, I have really screwed up!” he thought. “This lifestyle doesn’t work. I have made a mess out of my life! I have sinned against heaven and against my father and my family. Look at me now — starving to death. Why, even the servants in my father’s house have food to eat! I’m going home.”
So he gets up and starts walking back home. It’s a long journey, for he had gone to a distant country.
Finally, one day he climbs to the top of a hill and there, in the distance, he can see his home!
Fond memories of childhood growing up there, and of safety and security quicken his step. But then he remembers his fall from grace, and the shame and guilt of it weighs him down until he is barely trudging along the road.
(This is where we depart from the narrative as told by Jesus – vs. 20)
His father is sitting on the porch looking out toward the road and sees him coming, but does not get up. When the young man arrives he falls forward on his knees and bows his head.
“I knew you would come back, starving, penniless, and groveling,” the father says in a tone of disgust.
“Father…” the boy begins.
“Just a minute! It’s my turn to tell you some things. You wouldn’t listen before. Just turned your back and stormed off. You just had to get out of here after I gave you all of that money — my money! I’m sure you wasted it all on prostitutes, drinking and carousing, too.”
“I told your mother when you were little, I said, ‘He’ll never amount to anything. He’s worthless. Look at him, he can’t do anything right!’ She protested and fought with me about it, but I knew I was right. Guess I should be grateful she’s not around anymore to see your failure. Your brother and I had a good chuckle about it the other day, though. We were sure you would come crawling back when the money ran out.”
The boy looks up at his father’s face entreatingly. The father waves his hand dismissively.
“Oh, go ahead, say what you came to say.”
“Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make
me like one of your hired servants.”
The father considers this for a moment, then blurts out,
“You think that makes everything all right?”
He rises from the chair in anger, pointing a finger at his son, and yelling.
“You actually thought you could demand your inheritance, flit off to a distant country, squander all of my money in riotous living, then come waltzing back here, ask for forgiveness, and all would be well?”
The boy just stares at the ground. The father sits back down, furious. He tries to compose himself, and in a voice still seething with anger, but not as loud, says,
“Get up. That’s right — stand up!”
After the boy rises, the father continues.
“Foolish boy! You never learn, do you? It doesn’t work like that. You’re going to pay for what you’ve done! And you bet you’ll work like a servant of this house! Why, I’ve had servants more faithful and loyal than you!”
With that the father shakes his head in disbelief, rises and turns to go into the house. Then he abruptly stops, turns around and walks down the steps to where his son is standing, who is biting his lip in fear. Pointing a finger directly in his son’s face, in a measured, angry tone he says,
“And don’t forget. I’m keeping my eye on you! One little slip and Boom! You’re out of here! In fact,
I’m going to have your brother check on you. That’s right — your brother. Now, there’s loyalty for you.
Works hard, always does what he’s told. Never asks for anything special.”
The son walks away after his father leaves, knowing he did the right thing by coming home, but in a state of
utter hopelessness and despair.
Friends, God could be the God of the alternative ending! He would have every right to be. But how fortunate we are that He is not!
Of course we know this is not how the story ended as told by Jesus. This ending is 180 degrees from the impression of God’s love and concern for us He was teaching. In the previous parables here in Luke 15 — the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin — Jesus talks about how the angels in heaven rejoice over one sinner who repents!
But we get down on ourselves and think we’re not worthy, or that He loves others, but not us. When we do this, we’re not paying attention! Somehow it is easier to check out of “hope” and check into “self-doubt.”
Listen to David, the sweet singer of Israel, talk about His attitude toward us.
Psalm 25:6, 7
Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love,
for they are from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth
and my rebellious ways;
according to your love remember me,
for you, Lord, are good.
For the sake of your name, Lord,
forgive my iniquity, though it is great.
Psalm 51:1, 2
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.
Now, what about the prodigal son? Did he have a broken and contrite heart? Of course.
But his father took that heart and crushed it (in the alternative ending). Our Father will not do that.
Remember, when He forgives, He forgets.
For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.
“But, He’s God! How can he forget?”
I don’t know. Maybe He chooses to not remember. Think about your own children. Do you remember everything they did wrong 10 years ago?
Perhaps some of us experienced abuse from our earthly father, and consequently we have molded this into
our perception of our Heavenly Father. Even if this isn’t the case, our view of God is heavily influenced by our relationship with our earthly father. Let us remember that when we repent and come back from sin, our Heavenly father welcomes us with open arms.