Until recently, I did not understand the story of the prodigal son to be a story about God’s mission. Much of my attention has been focused on the younger son and the older brother as communicating something of the eternal destination of both based on their portrayal in the story.
While there is much to be learned from these characters, my reading has been colored by a fixation on the afterlife. Since we all die, some thought about the afterlife is surely healthy. But to be fixated on the afterlife means that I often miss the invitation to participate in the Kingdom of God here and now.
Jesus, in fact, taught us to pray for God’s will to be done right here on this earth, in the same way it is done in the heavenly realms. Jesus’ very life was a demonstration that the Kingdom of God had arrived in our midst. His life was a missional object lesson in gospel proclamation. And in the story of the prodigal son we catch a glimpse of what life is like in his kingdom: a party like none other.
The problem I have is that I’m altogether wrapped up in who gets invited, what they should wear, and whether or not they are “doing it right.” But when Jesus hosts the party he sends his messengers on this mission: “It is Party Time... right now! Invite everybody!” That isn’t an invitation for the afterlife, but rather, for dinner in my front yard.
King Jesus, you are a gracious, welcoming king. The table is big and the chairs plentiful. May your mission be carried out at our tables and in our chairs as we pray “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
Throughout This Day: Ask Jesus to show you whom you can invite into your home and life this week.
Song of Reflection: "Hear the Call of the Kingdom" by Keith and Kristyn Getty When relevant, we’ll include a song that can help you reflect further on today’s subject. If you have song recommendations that are relevant to today’s passage or devotional, feel free to send them to us!
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