October 15th, 2021 – Luke 15:11

Verse of the Day Devotion  Luke 15:11  And He said,  A certain man had two sons. 

Today we will look at the Parable of the Prodigal Son.  Here is this parable as found in Luke’s gospel.

And He said, A certain man had two sons; and the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ And he divided his wealth between them. And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living. Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be in need.  And he went and attached himself to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he was longing to fill his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him. But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger!  I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men. And he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him, and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him, and kissed him. And the son said to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son. But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.’ And they began to be merry. Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. And he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things might be. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.  But he became angry, and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began entreating him. But he answered and said to his father, ‘Look! For so many years I have been serving you, and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a kid, that I might be merry with my friends; but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with harlots, you killed the fattened calf for him. And he said to him, My child, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to be merry and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.” Luke 15:11-32. 

The main characters of this parable are the forgiving Father representing God the Father, The younger son who represents the tax collectors and the sinners, and the older son which is a picture of the Pharisees and the Teachers of the Law in that day.  The major theme of this parable seems not to be so much the conversion of the sinner as in the previous two parables of Luke 15: those being the parable of the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin, but rather the restoration of a believer back into fellowship with the Father. In the first two parables, the owner went out to look for what was lost whereas in this story the father waits and watches eagerly for his son to return.  And it is interesting that many of those who Jesus directed this parable to were from both groups.

The parable starts with a son, the younger one, going to his Father and asking for his share of the inheritance.  This would have been one third of the Father’s possessions since the older son would receive double what the other sons would receive according to Jewish custom.  This was unusual in that this was an inheritance, normally given at death, however this was not always the case. What is intriguing is that He did not argue with His son. The father clearly illustrates God’s love. The father knew that the son made a foolish and greedy request, yet allowed him to go his course, nonetheless.  

The son then goes and squanders the money. “And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living. Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be in need.” Luke 15:13-14. When he ran out of money, he found himself feeding pigs.  But he remained hungry, and realizing his predicament asks a question of himself. “How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger?” Luke 15:17. So he decides to go home and apologize to Him, and offer to be one of His hired workers, believing he was not worthy to be His son.

So as the son was going home, his Father sees him. “And he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him, and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him, and kissed him.” Luke 15:20.  When they come together, the son says, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” Luke 15:21.  But the Father shows incredible mercy to him and He says to His servants. “Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.’ And they began to be merry.” Luke 15:22-24.  This is the mercy God shows to all who come to Him in repentance and humility, asking for forgiveness.  We were dead spiritually having rejected the source of life.  But when we came to Him, we became alive because of the love of God exhibited through Jesus Christ and His sacrifice.

The older son, after hearing his brother had returned, was not happy with this.  He said to his Father, “Look! For so many years I have been serving you, and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a kid, that I might be merry with my friends; but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with harlots, you killed the fattened calf for him.” Luke 15:29-30. However, the Father answers him saying, “My child, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to be merry and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live and was lost and has been found.” Luke 15:31-32.

The picture of the Father receiving the son back into relationship is a picture of the Father receiving the younger son back, and how we should respond to repentant sinners as well. “Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted.” Galatians 6:1. And not only should we guide them back, but we must rejoice that He has come back, just as the Father does.  We must not be as the older son, the picture of the Pharisees and teachers of the Law, and in our day those who are arrogant and filled with pride regarding their faith and put Him down and be upset they have become saved.  Too many look at someone who had lived an incredibly sinful life and declare them unworthy to hang around with.  We must always remember that at one time, we were also in sin. “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23.  This ‘all’ includes us as well.  We should never think we are better than others, for we are all saved by the same sacrifice of Christ.  It is only by God’s grace that we have been forgiven, not by works that we may boast of. That is the core message of the Parable of the Prodigal Son.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

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