Letting Black Sheep Be Black

“Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.”

– Luke 15:11,12

There are many lessons to be learned from the story of the prodigal son, so for the next few days, we are going to dive into this parable full of grace, love, and restoration and examine the wonderful things it teaches us about Jesus and life in His Kingdom.

Have you ever been the “black sheep” of your family? Maybe you were the rebel who kept your parents up at night or perhaps you were the first one to confront someone’s wrongdoing and it didn’t go over well. Whatever the case, being on “the outs” with family is not optimal; it hurts the one who’s being rejected and it’s hard for the rest of the clan to handle the bad behavior of the “offender,” especially when their own reputation is at stake. This is why the black sheep often ends up outcast, not by his own choosing, but by the collective decision of others who are at their wits end. It is also what makes the story of the prodigal son so exceptional…

We know that the “prodigal father” had two sons, and it’s easy to imagine that they were not getting along. While his brother was the “rule-follower” and seemed to do everything right, the younger boy was a rebel and didn’t want any part of his dad’s lifestyle or household. In a move that was an absolute affront, he came to his father and told him that he wanted his inheritance now; in essence, he was saying that he wanted dad to be dead so he could have his money! In those days, the older son was entitled to two thirds of the estate and the younger son to the other third, which neither one would receive until their father’s passing. How shocking, then, that rather than yelling at him, punishing him, or disowning him, this dad does what his son asks him to — he sells a third of his estate and pays his boy in cash!

Friend, your Heavenly Father loves you so much that He gives you freedom! He will never keep you from doing it your way, because if He did, His love would no longer be a gift. If He prevented every failure, act of rebellion, or screw-up by asserting His authority, you wouldn’t be free to choose His way over that of the world. Only by having liberty to exercise choice can you come to fully taste the wonder of His mercy and appreciate the depths of His love. The greater the fall, the more miraculous the restoration!


I am thankful, Jesus, that you give me the freedom to make choices, even when they seem to separate me from you.


Have you ever been a “black sheep?” Did that experience ultimately draw you closer to Jesus?

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