I had the privilege of preaching yesterday at Southgate Church in Toledo, Ohio where my father in law is one of the elders. I preached a sermon that I’ve done a few times in some other venues, “The Prodigal God.” It’s the story of Luke 15 that’s usually called the “Prodigal Son.”
People often do a double take when they hear me call God prodigal, but this is because they don’t know what the word means. They think, like I did, that prodigal means “lost or wayward.” But, in actuality, the word prodigal means “recklessly extravagant.” It’s usually associated with the younger son because of how he squanders his wealth in reckless living (KJV, “prodigal living”). But, as the story demonstrates, the father in the story is the one who is truly extravagant. He is the one who runs to his son and embraces him in the midst of his mess, which is exactly what God does for us in Jesus. He’s also the one who pursues the proud, self-righteous older brother who won’t come in the party. It’s a great reminder that he loves both the irreligious and the religious.
There were some sermons from John MacArthur and Tim Keller that were helpful in helping me more deeply understand this parable and I thought I’d pass on some of their resources. Interestingly, MacArthur just came out with a book on the parable and Keller is releasing one this fall (I think he stole my title…well, maybe not).