NT Connect: Luke 15:11-32
Weekly Reading: 2 Samuel 18-22
The Rebellious Son
Have you ever been rebellious? If you answered honestly, you most likely answered emphatically: yes! This week we’ve read in 2 Samuel 18 about the tragic ending of David’s son Absalom. Absalom disgraced his father, rebelled against him, and attempted to dethrone him.
David almost lost everything. Absalom’s rebellion nearly succeeded after his death. When David heard that Absalom had been killed in battle, he mourned the death of his son and sunk into a deep depression. David loved his son more than he hated his rebellion. According to 2 Samuel 18:33, David cried out over and over again, “My son, my son.” David even expressed his wish that his life could have been taken instead of Absalom’s. This great depression almost caused David to lose control of his entire empire, for David’s inability to celebrate the victory nearly led his own army to rebel.
Jesus uses the story of a rebellious son to picture the extravagant love of God for his children. In the Parable of the Lost Son, Jesus describes a father with two sons. In what amounted to wishing his father were dead, one of the sons asked for his portion of his inheritance. The father granted the request. The son took his inheritance and wasted it on worldly pleasures. Ultimately, the son found himself feeding pigs and craving their food. In desperation, he remembered that even his father’s servants had plenty to eat. He decided that he would go back to his father’s home as a servant. The son began walking home and prepared to beg for forgiveness. Jesus then tells the most shocking part of the story:
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate” (Luke 15:20b-24 NIV).
This was not the reaction that anyone listening would have expected. Just like in the story of David and Absalom, the father’s love for his son was greater than his heartbreak over his son’s rebellious actions.
God is the ultimate Father. His love toward us is greater than our rebellion. In Jesus, God has run toward us, thrown his arms around us, and kissed us. God opens his home and welcomes us in. God wishes to celebrate the return of his children back to their rightful place as children of God. How will we respond to God’s love? Will we die in our rebellion like Absalom or seek forgiveness in the Father’s arms?