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Confessions of a Prodigal Son: Unexpected Grace
See more reviews by Jacob Sahms, Contributing Writer

Confessions of a Prodigal Son is a modern parable of epic, Biblical proportions. It’s based on Jesus’ “Parable of the Prodigal Son,” which recounts how the younger of two sons claims his inheritance before his father is dead, recklessly throws his wealth away, and sheepishly returns home to be a servant. Of course, the parable doesn’t actually end as the son expects, because it’s a grand narrative aimed at showing the depth of God’s love.

The truth is, “story” is talked about and lived out in this film in a way that makes it blunt. But too often, we don’t think about our stories nearly enough. For Sean Matthews (played by Nathan Clarkson, who also wrote the screenplay and produced the film), stories aren’t something he’d spent enough time thinking about: his story, his family’s story, God’s story. Sean just makes decisions based on what feels good or right in his gut. But the story of the film takes Sean to college, where he experiences life, love, and eventually  the consequences of his decisions.

Claiming half of his inheritance from his pastor father (Kevin Sorbo), Sean heads off to school with his best friend and drinking buddy (Azel James). But he meets two people who change his life. Professor Truman (Darwin Harris) wants Sean to take responsibility for how his choices impact his story; Ali (Rachel Lee) wants Sean to recognize that he has power over his choices and that he has the potential to be something more than someone who coasts through life.

The word “prodigal” is often defined as “using or giving resources away recklessly or lavishly,” and often attributed to the son who runs away. But thanks to the work of the Reverend Tim Keller, author of The Prodigal God, it also describes the love of God, who refuses to give up on people. Whether it’s the prodigal son blowing his inheritance on drugs, relationships, and fast living, or those who love him refusing to let go of him, there’s plenty of “prodigal” to hang onto here.

A copy of Rembrandt’s “The Return of the Prodigal Son” hangs in the Matthews’ household, and it seems apparent that Clarkson has read The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen. I found the book transformational in how I saw God and myself. The movie proves to be a heartfelt, entertaining, and (sometimes) humorous take on exploring the same issues in twenty-first century life. Is it primarily aimed at examining God’s grace from the perspective of a millenial? Absolutely. But the story Clarkson paints has life lessons that will speak to all of us, regardless of our age or station in life.

We all make choices. We all have great possibilities and responsibilities before us. God has given us so much, and we are simply asked to accept forgiveness, to put our trust in God’s grace, and to share the same with others. Confessions of a Prodigal Son is a parable presented to us in art form, like Rembrandt’s painting. We can’t afford to observe and walk away unchanged.


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Quote For The Day
"Jesus told her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die like everyone else, will live again."
- John 11:25

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