Thursday, July 20, 2006

Return of the Prodigal

Just finished reading The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen. This gentle and pastoral book is a reflection upon the parable (from Luke 15) as captured in this amazing 17th century painting by Rembrandt.

Nouwen takes a devotional - and not strictly exegetical - look at the three main characters in the story. Those looking for an exposition of the text will be disappointed. But those who want to put themselves, as Nouwen does, into the story and discover how we identify with each person - the younger son, the elder son, and even the father - will find the book thought-provoking and enlightening.

What's more, Nouwen also makes the observation that Jesus himself became for us the prodigal son (taking our sin upon him), is the true elder brother, and of course, reflects the love the Father has for each of us. Again, not strictly the message the text itself is teaching, but a truth worth meditating upon. Nouwen's ability to share transparently and engage us in the human struggle as we seek to follow Christ is one of his many strengths as a writer.

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