THE PARABLE OF THE PRODIGAL SON
Memory Verse:“And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses” –Colossians 2:13
Text: Luke 15:11-24
Jesus taught deep truths by the use of simple but sublime parables of eternal value. The parable of the prodigal son speaks of God’s immesurable riches of grace, mercy and kindness. It portrays divine ability to save the most wretched of sinners. It gives assurance of forgiveness and restoration to a repentant sinner and backslider. No matter how far and how long a sinner must have strayed away from the Lord, there is still mercy flowing at Calvary because of the graciousness of the father(Psalm 86:5).
- THE REBELLION OF THE PRODIGAL SON: Luke 15:11-16
In the Jewish law, it was the prerogative of a father to distribute his wealth during his lifetime if he so wishes. If he does, and according to the law, the eldest son received twice as much as the other sons (Deut. 21:15-17). For the younger son here to have asked for his share of the father’s estate was certainly not an appropriate thing to do, but legal. Hisdemanding attitude of “give me”was not made with any kind of respect or courtesy towards his father (Luke 15:12). A man’s worst difficulties begins when he assumes that he is able to do just as he likes. Whenever a man begins to value things more than people, has a passion for pleasure more than restriction, and distant, mundane things of life more thanthe blessing at home, he is, at that moment, gradually going astray and is heading for trouble. The prodigal son learned the hard way that you cannot enjoy the things money can buy when the things money cannot buy are ignored (Lk. 15:13-14).
The far country may not necessarily refer to a distant place, sometimes it first begins in the heart (James 1:14-15; Isaiah 59:4; Job 15:35; Micah 2:1-2).The prodigal son nurtured in his heart, the dream of enjoying his freedom in his own way, far away from home, away from his father, and away from his older brother. Oftentimes, this is the folly into which the ungodly ensnares himself. He expected to derive pleasures from living a life without God but soon realized that life lived in a ‘far country’ was not as sweet as he had imagined. He soon ran out of all of his resources, was forsaken by ‘friends’, and ensnared in famine and want. Left with no other option, he was forced to do for a stranger what he would not lift up a finger to do for his own father. This is the sad reality and consequences of sin for those who reject God and His will. Sin promises freedom, but ultimately leads to slavery (John 8:34); promises success, but delivers failure; promises honor but brings disgrace; gives assurances of life, but ultimately leads to death (Romans 6:23).
REFLECT:What does it mean to journey into a ‘far country’?
2. THE DESTITUTION AND AWARENESS OF THE PRODIGAL SON: Luke 15:13-17
As soon as the younger son got his portion, he “gathered all together and took his journey into a far country and there wasted his substance with riotous living” (Luke 15:13). He decided to separate himself as far as possible from what he considered a lifestyle too confining.There are those who delude themselves into thinking that staying with God and within the bounds of His word is too restrainingand would hinder them from enjoying the best of life (Isaiah 5:21; Proverbs 26:16). Such individuals do not know that there is really nothing to enjoy in life without God. Some church members have moved out of their residences or cities without leaving a trace of how to find them for necessary spiritual support. This is done in order for them to follow the carnal dictates of their depraved minds through riotous living. They indulge in eating, drinking, sexual immorality, and reveling. But soon, they begin to realize the pain into which the trap of fantasy has taken them. There is an enormous insanity living in sin. This is because it paralyzes the consciousness of God’s voice within the human soul. Some were searching for enjoyment in sinful activities, but soon discover their folly and changed course; but others realize their folly when it is too late for them to amend (Luke 13:24-27). When God is left out of a life, enjoyment becomes enslavement. The prodigal son’s initial thought of new-found freedom soon vanished, all the fantasies of self-delusion quickly fizzled out, and his ways became hedged up with thorns and thistles (Hosea 2:6, 7). Now, he has to depend on others for a living and then realized his degraded situation. Such is the deceptive nature of sin and its repercussion.
But thank God, the prodigal son found himself early before it was too late.While he was following after his heart’s fantasies, he had not come to himself,but now, “he came to himself”(Luke 15:17),having realized that he has lost himself in the pursuit of pleasure. How long he remained in prodigality is not stated but now has decided to change his mind about himself and his situation. He admitted his wrongful deeds and that he is a sinner (Luke 15:18; 2Chronicles 33:11-12). He remembered the generosity of his father, and that the service in his father’s home was much better than the freedom in a far country. It was the recollection of his father’s goodness that brought him to repentance (Romans 2:4). His present painful situation has led him to see his father’s goodness in a new way. He remembered that since his father has been so kind to his servants,he would readily forgive him as a son. He was not only being remorseful (2 Corinthians 7:10), but took an immediate action saying, “I will arise… I will go… I will say…”(Luke 15:18). True repentance involves the will, the mind, and the emotions which leads to an action. A sinner’s resolution may be noble and decent, but his resolve alone will not lead to regeneration. There must turning away from sin, believing Jesus as the only Savior, and the willingness to obey God’s word (Acts 3:19: 20:21).
REFLECT: Can you identify the specific steps in the prodigal son’s bid to return to the father’s house.
3. THE FATHER’S ATTITUDE AND THE GLORIOUS REUNION:Luke 15:18-24
The words of the prodigal son reveal genuine repentance.They are short and simple, “I have sinned.” Though easy to say, yet it is one of the most difficult phrases to express by many with all sincerity of heart. Generally, many people are not willing to sincerely admit their faults. But genuine repentance demands that a man sets aside his pride, swallows every stubbornness, and refuses the defense of any of his actions and evil. Confession of sin and a readiness to forsake them is what God is looking for (Proverbs 28:13). The prodigal son acknowledged that his shortcomings were both against heavenand his father.Hence, all wrongful actions against fellow human beings are ultimately against God. The genuineness of His repentance is evidenced in his drastic change of attitude from “give me”in Luke 15:12, to “make me”in Luke 15:19.He was willing to submit to what his father would make of him. The beauty of his father’s response as seen here is encouraging. He did not reject his son, but welcomed and honored his home coming (Luke 15:20-24; Psalm 103:10-14; Lamentations 3:22). Today, God is throwing an open arm to receive every homecoming sinner and backslider. He will never reject those who wholeheartedly and sincerely turn to Him in true repentance (John 6:37; Psalm 102:17; Isaiah 55:7). There is always“joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth”(Luke 15:10).
REFLECT:What lesson have you learnt from the father’s attitude to the prodigal son?