the prodigal son returns... but does he bolt again?

the story of the prodigal son is an easy one to relate to on many levels – the father and both the older and younger brother.

its a beautiful story of reconciliation, of hope in the midst of hopelessness, of forgiveness, of repentance, of living in the consequences of poor decision making yet recognizing that you’re part of something bigger than yourself.

we feel excited with the father as he starts running toward his lost son, still barely a speck off in the distance. we feel the relief and disbelief of the son as his dad doesn’t just say “welcome home” but brings a ring and a robe and throws him a party!  we get a little jealous along with the older brother when dad throws a huge party for his irresponsible brother.  and they all live happily after, right?

but what happens when the fatted calf is all gone, life settles back into routine, and the younger son, feeling restless, at some point decides to bolt again? 

would that be the last straw for the father? would the older brother be there shaking his finger and telling the father, “i told you so?” would the “re-prodigal” son have the courage to come home again? and if he did, what if the father was dead, and big brother was in charge?