Prodigal Son in Modern Setting

In Luke 15 we find Jesus talking to whoever will listen and eating with people that the religious big shots despised: tax gatherers and sinners. The religious crowd grumbles about it and Jesus tells them a story in verses 11-32 to explain God?s heart for sinners. I?ll put it in a modern setting, reading it as part of a letter that a young 19-year-old named Neal writes to his brother about his previous year. Alternative: Instead of reading this ?letter,? play the ?Prodigal Son Suite? by Keith Green. This powerful song goes through the life of the Prodigal Son in a way that only Keith Green could present it. Dear Brother, I want you to know exactly what happened to me over the past year, so that you can avoid the hell I went through. After my high school graduation, I sat down with dad for a little father-son talk about my future. I wore a conservative pair of khaki pants and a collared knit shirt. You know, the routine we always did when we wanted something from dad. I convinced him that a few of my friends and I had been planning to launch a computer business for some time and we felt it was time to strike now while the market?s hot. Then I gave him that apologetic look, like I didn?t feel quite right about asking this, but then looked him in the eye and asked, ?Could I take the money you set aside for my college and my portion of the inheritance and use it to pursue this dream?? I knew dad?s emotions would be mixed. You know how much he wanted us to do the college thing. And he really didn?t want to risk me losing that money that he hoped I would use take care of him in his old age. But I reminded him about how he always told us of his regrets that he played it so safe in life, managing someone else?s print shop instead of taking the risk to set up his own. Perhaps just seeing his oldest child sitting there in the living room, nicely dressed, speaking to him man to man about a feasible business simply overwhelmed him. Whatever the case, after spending a few days looking over the business plan (that I?d found on the internet), he took me to the bank and transferred an incredible $600,000.00 over to my name. I looked him sincerely in the eye and said, ?I won?t let you down.? At that moment dad probably relished in what he considered one of those father-son moments that he?d always look back on fondly. His son?s transition into manhood. The beginning of a business venture that would surely make him proud to be my father. But behind a sincere expression my hard heart was saying, ?Stupid old man. He?s worked fifty hours a week making his employer rich while he?s lived a frugal life in order to save for a retirement that might never happen. Somebody needs to enjoy this wealth before it all disappears into a nursing home.? I was already packed, so I lit out of town without even calling to say goodbye. I thought of no one but myself. My whole world centered around me. As I left the Baxley city limits, I rolled down my window, clinched my fist and shouted defiantly, ?In five years I?ll return rich and famous! You wait and see. You?ll be lined up for my autograph.? My dream was to break into Chicago?s nightclub business so that I could spend my nights hearing great bands and hanging out with the party crowd while I built my fortune. Oh yea, I picked up a few ?necessities? along the way. For me, image was everything. So I traded in the ailing Ford Taurus for a brand new Porsche. Then I bought some clothes worthy of my new image. With all that money and my natural charm, I quickly broke into Chicago?s social world of the local movers and shakers. At one party I met an incredible brunette named Veronica who worked for a financial firm. As I explained my dream of owning a club, her eyes lit up. She had been thinking of leaving her job to start up something of her own. We hit it off so well that within a few weeks we had moved into an upscale apartment near some of her acquaintances. The Prodigal Son: The context provides the key to interpreting this parable. The religious elite grumble because Jesus receives sinners and eats with them (15:1,2). In response, Jesus tells three stories, of which this is the last, to show God?s love for lost people. v. 15 ? ?For a Jew no occupation could have been more distasteful. A rabbinic saying runs, ?Cursed be the man who would breed swine.?? (Morris) v. 20 ? ?In that part of the world it was generally not considered dignified for an elderly man to run; yet, he runs.? v. 22 ? ?Best robe? is a status symbol. ?Ring? is probably a signet ring?an indication of authority.? (Hendriksen) Her friends treated me like an equal, listening intently to my ideas. I thought I had them wrapped around my fingers. And since they had lots of business experience, their advice to form a business partnership sounded wise. Together, we could make some serious money out of his inheritance. Within a few months, I was riding on the clouds. I was 19 years old, owned a hot club that pulled in top emerging bands, partied with incredible people, spent money wildly on whatever my eyes desired, had Veronica to manage the finances, and every chick adored me. Just six months out of nowhere land, and life was unbelievable. Things went great for another six months. But suddenly the bottom fell out. It started one morning over breakfast when I noticed that the roots of Veronica?s brunette hair were starting to emerge blonde. I panicked and checked the financial records personally for the first time. Sure enough, Veronica was clueless about the finances. But her friends weren?t clueless. They had been slowly draining my bank account dry by billing Veronica for exorbitant consulting fees and borrowing money in my name from the local Mafia. Now it was payback time, and I was dead broke. Veronica left in the Porsche to get her nails done and never returned. But the mafia arrived the next day, offering me three choices: pay up immediately, work for them, or die. Needless to say, I accepted their generous job offer. During the day, I did their dirty work, making dangerous drug transactions and threatening people who were behind on their payments. My paycheck was a bowl of soup and enough cocaine to keep me going for a day. At night I slept in an abandoned building with other addicts. I lived in constant fear - fear of the mafia, fear of the police, fear of those who beat me and abused me at night. Finally my drug habit got so bad that the mafia gave me a serious beating and threw me out. Later that night, as I was going through my favorite garbage can looking for food, I began to think of how good I had it back home ? my own bedroom, security, hot meals, a family that loved me. Then it occurred to me that dad occasionally employed homeless people through the Salvation Army. They didn?t get much pay. But at least they had food and a safe shelter. I wrote dad a letter explaining to him what had happened. I had lied to him, humiliated him, wasted his money, and certainly didn?t deserve any favors. Nor did I even dream of him allowing me back home as a son any more. I just wanted a lowly job with food and shelter. I would try to get home over the weekend and I hoped he?d be willing to consider hiring me. That Saturday morning I persuaded a former employee from the nightclub to drive me home. I cleaned up as best as I could. But my ill-fitting clothes couldn?t hide all the scars and needle marks. The whole way I rehearsed what I was going to say: ?I?ve messed up bad. I know I don?t deserve to be your son. Please could you find it in your heart to let me be an errand boy at the print shop. I promise to do a good job for you.? But just before we turned onto our street, I told the driver to stop so that I could look and make sure none of my neighbors or old friends were around. I didn?t want anyone to see me looking like this. But as I looked down the street toward my house, I choked up with tears. There was my aging dad, anxiously piddling around in the front yard, pulling a weed here or there, and then gazing intently, hopefully at every passing car. Draped on the front of the house was a huge banner that said, ?Welcome Home, Son.? I began to instinctively walk down the tree-lined sidewalk toward the house. When dad spotted me, I immediately began my little prepared speech, but he broke into a run, then grabbed me by the neck as he sobbed uncontrollably, saying over and over, ?You?re alive! You?re alive! We had almost lost all hope but now you?ve come home alive. Come inside, get you a decent bath, then put on some nice, warm clothes from your closet. I?m taking you with all my associates and relatives to the most expensive restaurant in town. It?s time to celebrate. I just can?t believe that you?re really home!? Now remember, I didn?t make up the story. Jesus told the original version 2000 years ago. Who does the father in the story represent? (God) Who does the son represent? (a person who?s rebelled against God) What point was Jesus making? (God loves sinners and wants to receive them.)

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