In Luke 15 there are three parables that teach along the theme of lostness. There are different views as to what these parables speak of. Some say that the lost sheep, coin, and son is a picture of those who are saved yet they have lost their way and was not walking with God as they should. Others say that these parables represent souls that are lost and they are in need of saving. Both of these views sound good and even fit with the overall context of scripture. There are those who are lost in their sin and they need salvation. Jesus came to ‘seek and to save that which is lost.’ There are also those who have been born again yet they have allowed the cares of the world to creep into their lives and they have ‘lost’ their way. In both scenarios, the one doing the seeking also fits in the context of scripture. Jesus seeks the lost in order for them to be saved. We should do the same. We are to go into the entire world and preach the gospel. On the other hand, when a born again Christian falls into sin and loses their way, the Holy Spirit goes after them and brings them back to where they need to be. However, in the parable of the prodigal son, I believe that the prodigal is a believer that has fallen into sin. I believe this because he is a son and the father never ceases being his father. This is true for a believer. Once you are a son of God, you always will be. Your position as a son will never change. Though your relationship with the father may be strained during times of sin, you are still a son. It is with this perspective that I would like to look more deeply at this parable of the prodigal son.
The pride of the prodigal. In verse 12 we find the younger son wanted his share of the family estate immediately. This is a prideful and selfish desire. He was thinking only of himself and his own pleasure. To take his share in the estate at this point would hurt the entire family. This is where sin begins. When we start to think only of ourselves, it plants seeds of sin in our lives. There is no concern for how our actions will affect those around us; we just want what we want. We are more concerned with our own comfort and our own way that we totally disregard what is right.
The sins of the prodigal. In verse 13 the prodigal son leaves his home and family and enjoys the pleasures of sin for a season. He wastes everything he had on living for himself and pleasing himself. He just wanted to enjoy himself with no care or concern for anyone else. This is the ugliness of sin. It is all about self.
The desperation of the prodigal. Verses 14-16 tells us that the prodigal son finds himself in a desperate situation. He spent all that he had on pleasing himself, now there is nothing left. He then finds himself working in a pig stall and even desiring to eat the pig’s food. He is in the pig pen of life. Sin never leads to anything good. It always brings trouble and it will always come back to haunt you. The scripture teaches us that you will ‘reap what you sow’ this is so true. Sin will always find you out. Sin leaves us in a desperate situation with no hope.
The awakening of the prodigal. In verses 17-19 we see the prodigal son coming to his senses. He is sitting there in the hog pen of life and realizes that he made a huge mistake. He longs to once again be safe at home with his father and family. He misses the fellowship that he once enjoyed with his father. Have you ever been in this situation? Have there been times in your life when you had gotten away from God and you longed to have that relationship restored but you just did not know what to do? Do you ever miss those days when you were on fire for Jesus? Once again, the prodigal son in his desperation; makes another mistake. He assumes that the father would not welcome him back so he comes up with a plan to be one of the servants because he was unworthy to be a son. The mistake he made once again is centered on self. He tries to take the matter in his own hands. He figures that he knows the best way to get back to his father. Have you tried that before? You had gotten away from God, so you think the answer is to start doing stuff for God. You become more active in church and start working hard, thinking that in some way your work is going to mend your relationship with God. All the while, you still struggle with that same sin that got you where you are in the first place.
The action of the prodigal. In verses 20-21, the prodigal son does exactly as he planned. He got up from that pig pen and went back home expecting to be one of the slaves and not a son. The positive thing here is that he took a step forward. There had to be some faith involved in order for him to leave where he was and crawl back home in shame and embarrassment. You see, there comes a time when you just have to get up, dust yourself off, and come back home. No one can do that for you. The father is waiting and ready to receive you back into right fellowship with Him, but you must get up. You must repent.
The acceptance and forgiveness of the father. Notice the response to the son by the father in verses 20-24. First of all the father was waiting and looking. Every day the father was waiting for the son to return. He was expecting him to come home. When we fall into sin this is exactly what God does for us. He patiently waits for us to return back to Him. Secondly, the father accepts the son for who he is not for what he did. Notice how the father never even entertains the notion of the son to be one of the slaves. He immediately picks back up right where things where left off. Nothing changed. He was still his son and would be treated as such. This is what God does for us. When we sin, he forgives us and accepts us. Our position as his son never changes, in the heart of God, it never skips a beat. What an amazing truth! God is so good! His grace is beyond our comprehension!
The joy of the father. Now that the son is home, the father wants to throw a party for him. Celebration is made for the lost son who is now home. You see, God takes joy in our intimate relationship with Him. He rejoices when a prodigal son returns home.
The brothers anger and jealous. In verses 25-30 we see another character in this story and that is the older brother. He is confused by all the rejoicing of his younger brother’s return. He wonders how the father can go so easy on his brother. Whether we admit to it or not, do we not act the same way? A fellow believer finds themselves living in sin and we are quick to point out their sins even in the name of ‘accountability.’ When the individual gets right with God, we accept them, but only on certain conditions. We tend to constantly remind them of how they failed. This is not grace. This is not love.
The father’s assurance. In verse 31-32, the father assures the older brother that nothing has changed. He is still his father. His love never changes. This is the same message that God gives us today. Those who have trusted in Jesus Christ for salvation is a part of God’s family and nothing can take you away from that. God will always be here for you. No matter how far you go, He is still your Father and He loves you. This is Grace. This is Love. This kind of loves does not lead us to freedom to sin but freedom from sin. It leads us to a desire to respond to the great love that God gives to us. It propels us to become a faithful child. This is all made possible only by God’s grace. To God be the Glory!