Before we even read this story in Luke chapter 15, Jesus tells us what happens in heaven when one sinner repents. The religious leaders often criticized Jesus for eating and drinking among sinners. In this particular instance, the scribes and Pharisees respond to Jesus’ actions.
Luke 15:1 Then drew near unto him(Jesus) all the publicans and sinners for to hear him.
2 And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.
Jesus begins to tell of the man with a hundred sheep and the one lost.(Luke 15:4-7) He speaks of the woman with ten pieces of silver(Luke15:8-9), and when loses one and finds it, she rejoices. Before He continues with the story of the prodigal son, He states one more fact for those who are sinners that come to repentance.
Luke 15:10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repents.
Jesus was a friend to sinners who came to repentance, but had nothing good to say to those who believed they were righteous in their own eyes.(Matthew 9:13; Mark 2:17; Luke 5:32) Jesus came to save those who are lost; He did not come for those who do not need a shepherd. As Jesus proceeds into the story of the prodigal son, I could not help but compare this story to the many men and woman I know who wait on a prodigal spouse in their one-flesh covenant of marriage.
There are actual men and woman who believe that when they made their vows of one-flesh covenant marriage, that God would honor their vows until death even if their spouse did not. These spouses believe that despite the actions of their prodigal spouse, and the pain of rejection they endure, God is faithful to restore the prodigal to repentance just as in the story of the prodigal son. Some of these spouses will tell you that they were not the perfect spouse in the marriage, and that some of the responsibility of their prodigal spouse leaving falls on them. Yet, their time in waiting for the prodigal, they have developed an intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, and remain obedient to His word and the vow they made before Him.
These waiting spouses seek to represent the love of the man in this story of the prodigal son. They know that eventually a prodigal will come to repentance because a prodigal that leaves a vow of marriage, ignoring the repentance of a spouse, becomes an enemy of God. They know that eventually a prodigal will come to wits end because they will eventually end up eating with the pigs. They also know that should the prodigal spouse never return, they remained obedient to God and His word and represented God's love for the sinner. Their trust in God to restore the prodigal makes them ever so ready to joyously celebrate the prodigal’s return. It is not so much their love for the prodigal to restore the marriage, as it is that the prodigal comes to salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The one who waits for the prodigal was often prodigals themselves. They know that God forgave them when they came to repentance. They know that at one time, they sinned against heaven and they remain forever grateful for the patience and grace God showed them. This is the whole point of the Gospel. A sinner comes to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
However, there is the other son to consider. This other son became indignant with the repentant prodigal. Even though he lived in the very presence of his father (Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. Luke 15:31), he felt that a son who blew his inheritance on harlots was not worthy of forgiveness.
Sadly, this son represents every single spouse who initiates divorce and believes that God blesses his or her remarriage. This son also represents the spouse who believes their marriage is over because their prodigal spouse is never coming home. The story of the prodigal son cannot include the words “divorce” or “remarriage” unless it pertains to the son who was angry and would not go in and celebrate the return of the prodigal. If this seems far-fetched, consider what Jesus endured to have your sins forgiven, and what God requires in return.
Matthew 6:14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
What words would someone have to say to the spouse who believes that God recognizes his or her vow of marriage to their prodigal spouse, despite the prodigal’s willingness or ignorance believing they divorced and remarried someone else? Could you honestly agree that once a spouse sins, whether it is adultery, physical abuse, murder, theft, or drunkenness, there is no hope for that person and that gives you the green light to divorce? What love do you have for a prodigal? What words do you have for someone who chooses to represent the man in the story of the prodigal son? What words do you have for a faithful spouse who believes that; what therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder? I have to wonder how a clergyman in his true conscience can preach about the story of the prodigal son on Sunday after believing he married a divorced person or persons the day before.
To those of you who seek to remain as the indignant son, there is hope. Repentance is acknowledging your sin and turning away from your sin, never willing to do that sin again by putting your faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. Forgiveness is waiting on a prodigal because your vow of marriage is more important than your unwillingness to believe a prodigal has no hope of repentance. This must happen to the one who divorces and remarries, as well as the single person who thought they could marry a divorced spouse. This is also relates to the pastor and ministries who believed they can preach the story of the prodigal son as they performed an invalid union of adultery to someone who divorced his or her spouse.
For those of you who wait on the Lord for your prodigal spouse…I thank and praise the Lord that you will remain in a vow you made before our Almighty, Holy, and Gracious Father. Know that your waiting on the Lord is not in vain. Should your spouse never repent or return, know that you are a true witness of the Lord Jesus Christ. You represent the man who waits on a prodigal son, setting an example of grace to a world that divorces with hard hearts and remarries into adultery. Please know and believe that you will always have an eternal relationship with the lover of your souls, the Lord Jesus Christ. His word is faithful and true, and He will never leave you, or forsake you. God bless you as you pray for the prodigal and remain in your singleness with the Lord. Never stop praying through the power of the Holy Spirit for the restoration your marriage and the restoration of your prodigal’s soul. Finally, pray for others like you who stand for their marriage, so that God will receive all the glory.
In Christ’s love,