As we anticipate the celebration of the birth of Christ this month, I want to share with you some thoughts from Henri Nouwen in his classic book The Return of the Prodigal Son (pp 55-57).
He helps me to picture the coming of Jesus in a totally different way.
“Jesus himself became the prodigal son for our sake. He left the house of his heavenly Father, came to a foreign country, gave away all that he had, and returned through his cross to his Father’s home. All of this he did, not as a rebellious son, but as the obedient son, sent out to bring home all the lost children of God.”
“Jesus is the prodigal son of the prodigal Father who gave away everything the Father had entrusted to him so that I could become like him and return with him to his Father’s house.”
“The eternal Son became a child so that I might become a child again and so re-enter with him into the Kingdom of the Father.”
Can you imagine one day hearing our Father say, “Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet; let us eat and celebrate! Because my children who, as you know, were dead have returned to life; they were lost and have been found again! My prodigal Son has brought them all back.”
I learned something this year from my daughter – I learned that the word “prodigal” doesn’t mean “wayward.” According to the dictionary it means “recklessly extravagant.” It describes someone who spends until there is nothing left. Isn’t that an awesome way to view the coming of Jesus into this world? He came with “reckless extravagance” so that we could be reconciled to God.