I first heard about Heuri Nouwen’s The Return of The Prodigal Son when it was referenced during one of the most impactful sermons I can remember ever listening to. The sermon was preached in 2010, I heard it in 2014, got the book in 2018 and only got around to read it days ago. While all of these actions happened in recent days and years, the foundation of this excellent book is set in 1669 when Rembrandt painted an exceptional piece based on the parable told in the fifteenth chapter of Luke’s gospel. A sighting of a print of the famous painting in 1983 by Henri Nouwen begins a life-changing exposition which is the crux of this tenderly written book. In The Return of The Prodigal Son, Henri explores the parables from the perspective of the younger son, the elder son and the father. All of the exposition juxtaposes the intricate details of the painting onto the text of Luke 15 and all scripture in the background.
The level of introspection that Henri Nouwen enters into and invites the reader to join him in is what makes this book a life changer. I instantly saw myself in both the younger and elder son while being convicted of my inadequacies. More importantly, the parable, the painting and by extension the book are not really about the prodigal son or the resentful insecure nature of his elder brother. The central character in the story is the father. A father who is actually quite prodigious by nature. The prodigal nature of his life is littered in every tiny detail of the story and The Return of The Prodigal Son makes a keen observation of each one of these tiny details. This is a perfect love that casts out fear. The reassurance that one gets from reading this book is a pointer because it is a book that will be revisited repeatedly in the future.