Jesus: The Prodigal Steward

From all appearances Jesus was a prodigal. He is the Creator of all and the King of the universe. He was adored and worshipped by a multitude of angelic beings. He is not only Life, He is the source of life. He is, after all, God. It is only natural to read the Bible as if it were first about us. Scripture does tell us that, “God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son” that we might “not perish but have eternal life” (John. 3:16). At center stage, however, is God. We do have a tendency to put ourselves in the center of things. From Genesis 3 to Revelation 22 we read a story of a loving and determined God who has an overwhelming desire to get His exiled family back. The lengths to which Jesus went to reclaim His lost family would certainly appear to make Him a true prodigal. The sacrifices He made on our behalf reveals the depth of His invitation for us to become stewards of His grace (1 Pet. 4:10).

God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son” that we might “not perish but have eternal life”

John. 3:16

The dictionary meaning of the word “prodigal” is not wayward but rather “spending money or resources freely and recklessly; wastefully extravagant.” It includes the idea of spending until there is nothing left. The word certainly fits the younger son in Luke 15 who foolishly spent his inheritance on that which did not last. The term, I believe, can also apply to the Son of God. Given all that He had provided for us in Eden, followed by our rejection of His gifts while continuing to enjoy all the benefits, it would be logical to conclude that He was reckless with any investment in us. He “made himself nothing” (Phil. 2:7) that we might not only be “something” but that we might be restored to being “children of God” (Rom. 8:16). Such a sacrifice in light of our past history clearly makes Jesus appear as “the prodigal steward.”

When a newspaper posed the question, “‘What’s Wrong with the World?’ G. K. Chesterton reputedly wrote a brief letter in response: ‘Dear Sirs: I am. Sincerely Yours, G. K. Chesterton.’” (Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God, p. 53). Such an insight and attitude recognizes both our fallen state and the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus for us. It is from this perspective that biblical stewardship draws its strength, its motivating power and its ability to tap into ministry opportunities Christ has made available for each of us.

In this special issue of the Dynamic Steward we will take a brief 360 degree look at stewardship. Biblical stewardship addresses the whole person—who God is, who we are and what we have. Left there, however, stewardship would be incomplete. The missing part of that equation is “others”. We have been invited by the sacrifice of Jesus to also be prodigals, so that others might experience His grace in their lives. We, in turn, are blessed as they receive. “Whatever necessity there is for our agency in the advancement of the cause of God, He has purposely arranged for our good. He has honored us by making us co-workers with Him. He has ordained that there should be a necessity for the co-operation of men, that they may keep in exercise their benevolence” (Testimonies to the Church, Vol. 3, p. 390). Such is the opportunity set before us by the One who gave all.