Does anyone know what the word prodigal means? Perhaps most people assume that it means: “wanderer”, or “rebel”, or perhaps even “backslider” or that it only applies to sons. This seems to be based on the story that Jesus told in Luke 15 to which most Bible Publishers assign the division title – The Parable of the Prodigal Son. But the word prodigal does not occur in this parable. Interestingly, there are three lead characters in this shocking and famous parable: the father and his two sons. One of these was genuinely ‘prodigal’, and, as Tim Keller points out, it was neither son! To appreciate what Keller means we might need to take another look at what the word prodigal actually means. It comes from the verb prodigious which means remarkably great in extent, size, or degree (New Oxford American Dictionary). It is a word often used to describe an author who regularly writes books – John Grisham is a prodigious author. A prodigal person is therefore, prolific, extravagant, excessive, and, lavish. Keller points out that even though most people ascribe this to the wayward son in the parable, it is more appropriately a designation for the lead character in the story, the father!
WHOSOEVER MAY COME
And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled.’
Many people think that a church is a building. We don’t. Church is a family. Our building is where our church meets – it’s our dining room where our dining table is set each Sunday with a banquet of plenty of food for everyone. And when we say ‘plenty of food’ we mean more than enough. And when we say ‘more than enough’ we mean enough for as many visitors as might turn up. It’s the kind of dining table where everyone is invited, everyone is welcome, everyone is noticed, and everyone belongs. This picture of church is beautifully illustrated by King David’s dining table and who he invited to it.
MEPHIBOSHETH MAY COME
When David became king of Israel after the death of King Saul and his son, Jonathan, he wanted to honour his friendship with his late friend Jonathan. He enquired whether any of Jonathan’s family had survived.
¶ Jonathan, the son of Saul, had a son who was crippled in his feet. He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel, and his nurse took him up and fled, and as she fled in her haste, he fell and became lame. And his name was Mephibosheth.
Second Samuel 4:4
Mephibosheth was a paraplegic. But he was given a place at the King’s table.