All the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to Jesus. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
So Jesus told them this parable:
“There was a man who had two sons….”
Luke 15:1-3, 11
These words serve as the beginning of one of the most popular parables of Jesus. Throughout his life, the artist Rembrandt drew or painted various scenes from this parable. Shortly before he died, Rembrandt returned to the parable for inspiration and painted The Return of the Prodigal Son. In the painting the returning son kneels before his father. The son’s clothes are ragged. The father embraces them, and Rembrandt bathes them in a light that then renders all other figures in the painting in darkness. To the right of the father, partially in shadow, is the elder brother watching the scene unfold. Rembrandt’s painting, completed within two years of his death, is considered the height of his art.
Some two hundred years later, Henri Nouwen, a Dutch priest, would view Rembrandt’s painting and would spend hours contemplating the painting. Nouwen described this experience in his book The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming (1992):
Rembrandt is as much the elder son of the parable as he is the younger. When, during the last years of his life, he painted both sons in Return of the Prodigal Son, he had lived a life in which neither the lostness of the younger son nor the lostness of the elder son was alien to him. Both needed healing and forgiveness. Both needed to come home. Both needed the embrace of a forgiving father.
- Are there times that you feel lost? And how are you found in those moments?
- Which person do you most relate to in this parable? The father? The older brother? The younger brother?
Come join us as we explore our relationships and gather for worship on Sunday at 6 pm with supper following.