The Parable of the Lost Son (Luke 15:11-24)
11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. 17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. 21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
In His three year ministry on earth, Jesus told many different illustrative stories, or parables. When questioned by His disciples in Matthew Chapter 13, Jesus stated this His reasoning for speaking in parables was simple: the parables helped blind and deaf people to see and hear the truths of His gospel. Of the thirty-something parables spoken by he master, none speak more of God’s immense capacity for love and forgiveness than the tale of the prodigal son.
What makes the parable of the Prodigal Son so unique is that it speaks to two different groups of people: the lost and the saved. Traditionally, we tend to think of ourselves as having been prodigal sons/daughters when we didn’t know Jesus but it also applies to Christians who have strayed far from the path of following Jesus.
In the parable of the Prodigal Son, the younger son of a prominent Jewish farmer decided that he’d had enough of living in his father’s shadow. He requested that he receive his share of his inheritance early (perfectly acceptable under Jewish law at the time) and departed for distant lands where the Scripture says he spent his money on “wild living.” Now as oilfield hands, we don’t have to use our imagination too much to discover the root of this wild living, but in any case, when the money ran out, the parties stopped. When the parties stopped, the fair-weather friends he had made stopped coming around and the young man found himself alone, broke and destitute in a country that was not his own. He hired himself out as a pig herder to a local farmer and at this point he’d had enough of his so called freedom. He thought about his father and how the servants of the family lived in comfort. The young man turned and set his sights on his homeland. Scripture tells us that when he got home, his father accepted him back into the fold like he had never left and a huge celebration ensued.
Now of course we can see similarities between the prodigal son and our own lives. When we are lost and in spite of our innate knowledge of God and right from wrong, (Romans Chapter 1) we so often deny to ourselves what we know in our hearts to be true about our need for God and His Son. Just as the prodigal son denied his need for his father, we tell ourselves that we can make it on our own. Just as the prodigal son lived his live the way he wanted, when we were lost we did not care to live our lives according to God’s plan for us.
When we look at the prodigal son, we realize that he had to be brought to his knees before he swallowed his pride enough to admit he needed his father. The prodigal son’s breaking point was to be a swineherd, which was “Unclean” for a practicing Jew. (Leviticus 11:7) In the same way, lost people or as Christians stubbornly stuck in sin, we have to be brought to our knees before we admit our need for Jesus. Our breaking point may not be working with pigs but some other event, such as the death of a loved one, which God uses to open our eyes to Him.
Just as the prodigal son was welcome when he went home, when we repent of our sins and turn to Christ, God welcomes us with open arms. Now, I find it interesting to note that in Luke chapter 15 verse 20, the farmer was waiting for his son to return. Scripture does not tell us that the old man was out supervising his servants or looking after the livestock, he was on the front porch, waiting. He was able to see his son from a long way off and RAN to meet him. It did not matter that his son had insulted him by asking for his inheritance early nor did it matter how he had spent the money. What mattered was that his son was home, safe and sound.
In the same way, when we repent, God welcomes us with open arms! There are no sins too great for the shed blood of His Son to cover. He’s not too busy to be waiting and watching; he WANTS us to be in fellowship with Him. He’s not somewhere on the other side of the world, too busy to care, He’s right here next to us, patient. Whether we are a lost sinner accepting the eternal gift of salvation or a wayward Christian repenting of sin, GOD IS WAITING FOR US TO MAKE A DECISION AND TURN TO HIM!