PASTOR’S PERSPECTIVE: “The Black Velvet that Displays the Diamond of the Love of God”. By: Ron Woodrum
The Parable of the Prodigal Son has been called “The Most Beautiful Story Ever Told!”– (William Cowper-Hymn writer). It has been called “The greatest short story ever written-with such drama that is so clear and precise that everyone can relate to it-and cannot miss its central point” (Max Lucado-author). It was called a “Lifeline to God” by Fyodor Doestevesky. Rembrandt was so touched by it, his last painting put an exclamation point on all of his masterpieces! That very painting captivated Dutch Theologian Henry Nouwen for over four hours, after which he wrote his most important book-The Return of the Prodigal Son. He said, “I become the Prodigal Son every time I seek for unconditional love anywhere but where it can only be found, in the heart of the Father!” The Parable and the painting changed his life and ministry forever. If we would spend a few minutes this morning in meditation on its central message it can do the same for us! Great men of history have been so touched they have written poems and songs as well! We all know the name John Newton. His greatest masterpiece of hymns is the famous Amazing Grace! But he wrote a very touching summary of the Parable in a poem. He wrote:
THE PRODIGAL SON by John Newton
Afflictions though they seem severe
In mercy oft they are sent
They stopped the Prodigal’s career
And led him to repent
Although he no relentings felt
Till he had spent his store
His stubborn heart began to melt
Though famine pinched him sore
What I have gained by sin he said
But hunger, shame, and fear
My father’s house abounds with bread
While I am starving here
I’ll go and tell Him all I’ve done
And fall before His face
Unworthy to be called
His son I’ll seek a servant’s place
His father saw him coming back
He saw, He ran, He smiled
And threw His arms around his neck0
Of His rebellious child
Father I have sinned, O please forgive!
I’ve heard enough He said
Rejoice my house, My son’s alive
For whom I mourned as dead!
Now let the fatted calf be slain
And spread the news around
My son was dead, but lives again
Was lost, but now is found.
Somehow, we manage to make the prodigal son the central message of this parable. I think that when we do that, we miss the main point Jesus had in mind when He told that story to its original audience. Jesus was telling the audience that they had totally forgotten the true nature of the heart of His Father. The central point of this Parable is that the Father always has, and always will welcome prodigals from the far country of sin and rebellion to come home to His loving forgiveness and restoration. This Parable is about the Loving Father, not the Lost Son! Kenny Bishop has written a song entitled The Prodigal’s Dad. Listen to it on U-tube. Look up the lyrics. It has a remarkable message. It is about the broken heart of our Heavenly Father that goes from Sad to Glad, when his Prodigal Son comes home! That is the message of the Parable we are studying today. That is the thrust of the sermon’s message today! The point of this parable is not the depths of the lostness of the rebellious son. It is the depth of the love of the restoring Father. The depth of the lostness of the son is shown only to highlight the depth of love of the Father. THE LOSTNESS OF THE SON IS THE BLACK VELVET AGAINST WHICH THE DIAMOND OF THE LOVE OF THE FATHER IS DISPLAYED IN ALL OF ITS FACETS AND SPLENDOR! Please don’t miss that. If you do you miss everything!