Jesus continued: ‘There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am staving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: 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.’ So he got up and went to his father.

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.

Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

The older brother became angry and refused to go in. SO his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

’My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’

- Luke 15:11-32

The parable of the prodigal son seems to be one that you hear often if you grew up going to church. For me, it was easy to reduce it to a story of salvation. I focused on that fact that I too had been the lost son, and I have an eternal celebration with God. The more I heard the story told, the more I noticed that the story is much more than a son who was once lost and now found. The story has a couple other key characters. One of those is the father who was not a disappointed or angry father but one who was filled with compassion.

A lot of times it's easy to see our shortcomings as something that's going to make God more disappointed or angry with us when we come to Him. However, there's the opposite effect that happens. God sees us coming back to Him and has compassion for us. God seeks for us to be found.

The other main character is the other brother. The one who did everything right. The one who didn't squander his inheritance. How did he react? He was upset. His brother had experienced all this pain and was finally home and the only thought the older brother could have was the fact that he hadn't been celebrated for all this time. How much more glorious would the homecoming have been if the other brother had joined in the celebration? Let's not miss the victory in the face of our entitlement.

God, I thank you that you welcome me in my brokenness. You treat me like royalty when I am weary at your feet. Thank you for the compassion you have for me and the gifts you give me. Give me the grace to celebrate freedoms in the way that you do. Amen.

- Daniel Bailey