“‘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 15:31-32 (NIV)
What is the father doing now in this parable? Is it strange that Jesus ends the story without resolution? What does it mean that it is not finished? What does it mean for the older brother?
I was reading “Who Can Be Saved?” by Will Willimon, and he shared a story that went something like this:
They hadn’t seen their son in four months. They hadn’t even heard from him. Not a call, not a letter, not an email, nothing.
Then one night as they are eating dinner, he busts right through the front door of the house and comes right up to them. Cursing at them, demanding money, refusing to sit down and eat dinner with them, cursing at them some more, and finally going down the hall and slamming the door shut to his room.
Her husband gets up from the table and pours himself a drink and sits down on the couch looking pathetic.
She gets up and goes to the bedroom her son is in. “Son, come on out let’s talk about things.” More cursing greets her pleas for him to talk. She tries to open the door but he has locked it.
She goes into the garage and finds a hammer. Going back into the house she approaches the locked door. With hammer in hand she lifts her arm back and throws the hammer down upon the doorknob. It comes off with pieces of the door and she pushes it open.
There her son sits looking stunned. He is about to open his mouth again when she goes up to him and grabs his face and says, “Enough of this! I don’t know what is wrong with you, but I’m not giving up on you damn it! We’re going to talk whether you want to or not.”
In the parable the younger son’s return is being celebrated, and the older one decides he is done with it all. Notice the father. He goes outside to plead with his older son. The father never gives up on either of his children. Like that mother who would break down a door to talk to her hate-filled son, God follows us and pleads with us.
The parable ends with the father and the older son outside. I wish I knew what happened next. Perhaps it doesn’t end because what happens next is up to us. Will we talk to the God who follows us? Will we go into parties that others don’t deserve? Will we? What I do know however is that God won’t stop reaching out.