Engraving of the Prodigal Son as a swineherd by Hans Sebald Beham, 1538 - photo credit: wikipedia

Engraving of the Prodigal Son as a swineherd by Hans Sebald Beham, 1538 (photo credit: wikipedia.org)

If the parable of the younger son is a portrait of the beauty of a repentant heart and changed life, then the backstory (which turns out to be the main story) is the beauty of the father’s steadfast mercy and kindness…a father who is willing to shame himself by hiking up his robe to run outside the boundaries of his house and farm to go get his lost son. He’ll pursue the son to keep anyone from shaming the younger son or keeping the bread from him. Townspeople and older brothers (or the “bouncers of God’s grace” as I call them) would say, “Don’t you even dare come back here…you’ve disgraced your father’s name enough. No more of that!” The father doesn’t let that shaming happen but goes outside to beat the bouncers to his returning, repentant son. This son who while he was in the distant country remembered that at home, there is “bread and enough to spare,” even for those who see themselves as lowest on the totem pole.

"...bread and enough to spare..." (photo credit: guardian.co.uk)

“…bread and enough to spare…” (photo credit: guardian.co.uk)

Behold the kindness that is meant to bring us home. Or, as St. Paul says: “God’s kindness is supposed to lead you to change your heart and life.” (Romans 2:4 CEB)

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