In The Prodigal God, Tim Keller takes the parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15 and expounds upon it simply, clearly and powerfully. He brings a depth to the parable that is both refreshing and challenging. The book made me think about my attitude towards the grace of God, and how little my understanding of his mercy and grace was.
Keller looks first at the people listening to Jesus, then turns to the two lost sons, demonstrating how both are as lost as each other. He uses the parable to show how we can avoid Jesus, not just by sinning as the younger son does, but also by keeping all the moral laws so that we believe we have a right to salvation, as the older son does, thereby not tasting the grace that God gives us.
Then Keller concentrates on the father, and the lavish love he bestows on the two sons at both the beginning and end of the parable. The book is called The Prodigal God as ‘prodigal’ means ‘to be recklessly spendthrift’; in other words, to spend until you have nothing left. Keller shows in this book that this is the father’s response to the younger son, a ‘reckless’, unfathomable grace, as he refused to ‘reckon’ his sin against him, so much so that his response offended the older son. He demonstrates clearly how the father represents our Heavenly Father in his response to us. He then finishes by showing how this parable helps us to understand the Bible as a whole and how its teaching affects how we live in the world.
Who would this book be good for? It clearly lays out the essentials of the Christian gospel and could, therefore, be given to people who are seekers, or maybe those who have fallen away and haven’t truly grasped the nature of God’s grace. It can also be enjoyed by Christians who want to remind themselves of the radical love of God and how our relationship with our Father should affect the whole of our lives.