Luke 15:11-32 Then He said: “A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood. And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything. “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.” ‘ “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father said to his servants, ‘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 fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry. “Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’ “But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’ “And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’ ”
In this story, the son spent all of his father’s inheritance and lived in a pigsty for survival. It took courage for the prodigal son to return to his father’s house. He felt shame and regretted his actions. This is not a typical story of a father disappointed in his son; this is a story of a Father’s unconditional love.
Jesus is telling a parable to a crowd of people about a prodigal son who left his father’s home for what he thought would be a better life. One day the younger son came to his father with a demand: He wanted an early disbursement of his inheritance. The father gave the son his portion despite the likely hardship in taking this money from the estate.
Luke 15:13 …the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living.
The younger son abandoned the Holy Land to go voluntarily into exile to a pagan country where he could live loosely without being criticised by others around him. He wanted to get out of God’s land so that he could live in sin and fund his sinful lifestyle by what he took from his father.
In a relationship, distance is not measured in kilometres. Bible says he journeyed to a far country. It would seem the distance in this relationship had become quite long before he left the family home. The son no longer wanted to live under his father’s roof. He no longer had respect for his father. He had some longstanding unresolved tension with his father to the extent; they could no longer “walk together.”
Amos 3:3 Can two walk together unless they are agreed?
It could be that the son had emotionally left home long before he physically walked out the front door?
As time went on, he spent all his money. He lived beyond his means, and one day he found himself penniless. Finally, he began to do manual labour for a daily wage. After working at a job that paid little and gave no satisfaction, he evaluated his situation. He was barely making enough money to buy food. It seems the animals that he fed ate better than he. Now he came to the situation
- No money
- No friends
- No good prospects
Every day the father walked from his home to the small hill where he could look down the road and see a far distance. He always thought, and hoped, that he would see a familiar figure heading his way.
His thoughts were longing for his son with the hope that he will return. When he failed to see what he had hoped, he would turn and go about the business of the day. The younger son, who choose to leave for a far country, left an empty place in his father’s life.
The father remembered the day his son left the family home. He wanted his portion of the inheritance to go out on his own and make an independent life. It was hard for the father to divide off the younger son’s portion earlier than planned. But the father did it with regret; that is the only way his son would learn life’s hardest lesson.
Watching his son go was a challenging moment in the father’s life. His son was not prepared for life; neither would he listen to his instruction or wisdom. The father was longing for his son’s return.
FATHER’S DEEP LOVE
The father had a deep love for his lost son. He would have prayed each day for his son’s return, requesting God to guard him against harm, asking God to help him, even when his behaviour didn’t honour God. During his prayers, the father had an understanding that God will have mercy and goodness on his son.
Imagine for a moment the day the father goes out to the hill and at last sees his son coming up the road. What joy and delight he will feel. His heart immediately reaches out to his returning son, his feet quickly propelling him forward to the exuberant embrace. Both father and son are together again, the distance bridged and the time forgot. His years of hope and his longing is summed up in,
Luke 15:24 “This my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found”.
How do we feel when we make a mistake and do not know how to make it right?
Luke 15:17-29 How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.”
He remembered the goodness of his father, the times he lived happily under his protection, playing with his brother. He never worried about anything, and the father provided all his needs.
As he remembered all the good times in his father house, he began to walk towards his father house. His head towards the ground, feeling defeated and angry. He struggled with forgiving himself for his selfish actions and did not know if his family would forgive him. As he continues walking home, he prepares a speech for his father to accept him back into the family.
- What would you do in such a situation?
- Would pride prevent you from returning home to restore your relationship?
- Would stubbornness push you toward self-destructive behaviour?
- Maybe you feel you are no longer loved, and they would not want you back?
- You can’t bring yourself to pick up the phone to mend a broken relationship
Perhaps you find yourself at present in a position similar to that of the son in the parable.
Today, social media connects us to many, yet we can’t always connect at the deepest level of love and meaning. You can have hundreds, even thousands, of “friends” on Facebook, but no one is interested in your life at the most critical moments. It’s vital to have friends who can counsel, encourage and support. It also takes effort to keep those lines of communication open.
The young man comes to himself when he realises the servants in his father’s home have plenty of food and don’t go hungry.
- He realises his mistake
- He’s at the end of his rope.
- He realises he can’t go forward on his own.
- He knows that he must return home.
- The journey is now at its most crucial moment.
FATHERS UNCONDITIONAL LOVE
We expect the father to have a grudge and be hurt by his son’s actions and betrayal. But, instead of being rejected by his father, the prodigal son received unconditional love and acceptance.
The prodigal son was approaching his father’s home, and “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.” The son, filled with shame and regret, is now ready to convince his father that he is not worthy of being in his father’s home.
The prodigal son did not need a speech to be accepted. The father was delighted to see him alive and well. The father was not concerned about his son’s actions but showed him unconditional love.
How many times have we hung our head in shame, asking God to forgive us for our sins?
Our heavenly Father, Who loves us unconditionally and gives grace and mercy, which we do not deserve. He embraces us and accepts us back into His arms, and forgives us for what we have done.
The father treated his son like royalty with the best robe and a ring. The love that God has for us is deeper, wider, and farther than we could ever imagine.
The older son stayed and honoured his father and built the family business?
When he came home, he heard the noise of celebration and wondered what it was all about. He could not handle it when he listened to the celebration is for the return of his lost brother. He refused to join the celebration and said
Luke 15:29-30 All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!
The father showed his wisdom:
Luke 15:31-32 “Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found”
There was a bond between the father and the older son. The loyalty and trustworthiness between them are beyond doubt. Such relationships need no party or grand demonstration of the fact. Trust was simply there.
You may have many questions regarding this parable which Jesus spoke
- What was the reason behind the son asking to divide the estate?
- What portion did the sons get? What did the father retain to organise a feast for the prodigal’s return?
- When the prodigal “came to himself, ” does this indicate “repentance” or just economic realism?
- When he decided to confess to his father, was he sincere, or was he calculating to manipulate his father’s natural emotions?
- Is the father interested in the genuineness of his son’s apparent repentance?
But the critical aspect of this parable is the lessons we learn.
- We can be a genuine son or daughter but be “lost” in sin. We can turn our backs on our heavenly Father in our own free will. But, God trusts that we will learn our lesson and come back to him.
- Mortal sin is a reality. It will inevitably bring us to a worse state.
- When he returned, his Father accepted him with great joy. Our Father God is ready and eager to accept us back and forgive us, no matter what we’ve done.
- The father will not treat a son as a hired servant. The younger son is still a son. As a result, his return is something to be celebrated. That is how God will treat us when we return from being lost in sin. He doesn’t begrudge us for what we have done.
- Like the older son, we Christians who have never fallen should not resent those who come back. Your place in heaven is secure. God loves you just as much as he loves those who come back to Him.
If you have walked away from God or just have doubts about who He is in your life, I encourage you to seek Him and take the journey of faith. Just like the prodigal son, he walked the journey back home to find that his father embraced him rather than condemned him. The heavenly Father will do the same for you. He is just waiting for you to come home to where you belong.
If you have never had a relationship with God, I encourage you, as you continue this journey to know Him, that you will find His hope and love for your life.
I encourage you to find a quiet place alone to pray and write down your thoughts on being a Christian. What does Christianity mean to you? What are some ways you plan to build your faith and have a closer relationship with Christ?
Because of the unconditional love of the father
- I like to imagine the two brothers reconciling and their healed relationship becoming stronger and enduring through the years.
- I like to imagine the father lives to see his grandchildren run through his home with shouts of joy and fun.
- I like to imagine, father thanking God for his family, for the fullness of years, and His goodness and grace.