Table of Contents
2. Parable of the Prodigal Son
– Wasting the giving of God
– The consequence of having ‘fun’
– Repenting and turning around
– God’s mercy and forgiveness shown
– Understanding and extending God’s love
Watch & Listen
In our lesson last week, we took a look at how we ought to live our lives sharing and extending the love that God has shown us to our neighbor. You and I cannot be like that merciless and unforgiving servant that we saw in Jesus’ parable because that would make a mockery of God’s mercy and forgiveness. In our lesson this week, we take a look at another parable that Jesus taught about the uplifting love of forgiveness.
Parable of the Prodigal Son
So, to teach this lesson on forgiveness, we see Jesus say that there was a “certain man” that had two sons (v.11). Who do you think the certain man represents and who do you think the two sons represent? The certain man represents the Lord. When it comes to the two sons, one is representative of one of obedient faith and the other is representative of those that are disobedient.
Wasting the giving of God
Jesus tells us that the younger son went to the certain man and asked to receive his portion of goods that would ‘fall to him’ – that he would inherit (v.12). Now, this is a very interesting ask of the son, isn’t it? The reason I say that is because he’s asking for his inheritance with the certain man seemingly in good health. So, what’s going on with this picture?
So, considering what we will see later in this lesson, the certain man had much; his sons were likely raised in a loving house where they were well cared for. Because they were likely raised in a loving house with a dad that cared, there were likely rules that the sons needed to obey. What likely happened is that when the younger son reached a certain age, he grew tired of living under the roof of his dad and wanted to simply get out and live on his own.
Of course, there’s certainly nothing wrong with getting out and living on your own. However, after receiving his portion, the younger son went out and wasted his possessions with “prodigal” living (v.13). So, what is prodigal living, you may wonder? Being prodigal is characterized by profuse or wasteful expenditure; it is being reckless trying to live lavishly. With that in mind, the younger son wanted to go out and live a lifestyle that he likely would have never been allowed to do in his father’s house.
I believe the picture that has already been painted for us depicts life in the world today, right? The Lord has given us His instructions on how we ought to live and some do their best to live in obedience to His word. On the other hand, many refuse to live by His word because they ‘want to have fun’. There are many so-called believers who will dismiss the word of God for wanting to have ‘fun’.
When we choose to ignore the word of God for having ‘fun’, we begin to waste what God has given to us. What has the Lord given to us? He gave us His only begotten Son, right? What was it that was promised to us through the giving of His only begotten Son? Everlasting life, right? So, in the end, many of us waste the opportunity at everlasting life in the Father’s house for having ‘fun’ in the world.
The consequence of having ‘fun’
It seems that the younger son didn’t understand the consequences for the life that he was trying to live as he ended up wasting all that he had. When a famine came, he was unable to care for himself because he had wasted all that he had received from his father (v.14). Do not overlook the fact that many of us, like the younger son, we turn away from the Lord and end up in grave trouble when affliction comes on our way.
The son was in such a bad situation that he had to go and find work. The work that he had ended up finding was work feeding swine (pigs) (v.15). Even worse for the condition of the younger son is that he was no longer eating out of luxury but would have gladly ate the slop that pigs eat! The younger son became a beggar and nobody would bother to offer him a helping hand.
So, let’s recap the parable up to this point. The younger son, we should understand, had it made living in his father’s house. Yet, the son desired to live ‘better’ and went out and lived according to the way of the world. In his worldly living, he lost everything and had nobody to help him back to his feet.
What would be your takeaway from this parable thus far? My take away, especially for all believers, is this: the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. There are many that claim to believe in the Lord but they always seem to covet what the sinner has and many even desire to live just as sinners do. If you’re a believer that is of this mindset, you should certainly consider your thoughts and then the consequences of any action you may take.
Repenting and turning around
For the prodigal son, a day came where he took a look at where he was in his life and he thought of his father’s hired servants. He thought to himself, ‘they don’t have to beg for anything as I am having to do while working for someone else’ (v.17). You see, I believe that the younger son, while living in his father’s house, for years desired badly to get away from; he didn’t realize how good he had it!
Now, the younger son was beginning to realize just how good he had and he had made up his mind to go back home (v.18). The son, after having lived wickedly, was ready to go back home and repent to his father (v.19). The question for the younger son would be whether or not his father would forgive him and accept him again.
I feel like one of the major hurdles that many sinners have to leap over is the hurdle of doubting God’s forgiveness. There are many today that know they are living wickedly but won’t stop living wickedly because they don’t believe themselves worthy of being forgiven by the Lord.
The younger son, as he contemplated how the conversation with his father would go, had the same exact thought of not being worthy of being forgiven by his dad (v.19). When he made his way back home, the younger son was willing and ready to not be treated special but to be treated as just another servant.
God’s mercy and forgiveness shown
So, when the younger son returned home, his dad was filled with great joy and ran to hug and kiss his son (v.20). Scripture tells us that the father had compassion for his younger son, whereas the son was probably not showing the same excitement. The son returned back home rather beat up, right? The younger son was very somber in his return as he acknowledged that he had sinned “against heaven” and in his dad’s sight as well (v.21).
I want to take note of the fact that the younger son made mention of sinning “against heaven” because I think this speaks of the kind of household he was raised in. You see, the certain man, I would suggest, was a God fearing man and he had raised his sons to be the same as well. So, when the son was living worldly, he knew that he was living the life of a sinner!
I would say to you that we genuine believers also have moments when we know we’re living as a sinner. Our reaction and response to when we know we are, or have, done wrongly will speak the loudest about our faith. When you and I have done wrong, we should go to the Lord. As John said in his epistle, the Father is both faithful and just to forgive us our transgressions against Him if we confess them to him (1 John 1:9).
In the telling of the parable, the father, without hesitation, overlooked the younger son’s actions and ordered that there be a celebration for his return (vss.22-24). You see, this is God’s reaction when we confess our sins to Him in repentance. You should never feel like you aren’t worthy to receive God’s forgiveness because He desires to forgive you.
The Lord, I want you to understand, greatly rejoices when we turn away from going down the path of sin to come back home to Him. So, why be afraid to go back home to Him? We certainly should not be afraid to return back to Him as He loves us, will show us mercy, and forgive us.
Understanding and extending God’s love
The scripture for the lesson ends at this point but I do briefly want to bring up the reaction of the older son. The older son was not pleased that the father had chosen to throw a feast for his brother who had returned home after living in sin (Luke 15:25-28). You see, the other son was representative of the faithful and he had lived in faith without ever leaving the father. However, this moment for the older son was a down point that we as believers must learn from.
The father asked the older son why he was so angry, and in response, the older son spoke of his faithfulness and how he never received any sort of special treatment (Luke 15:29-30). The problem here is that the older son did not recognize just how good he had by being faithful. Literally, every day that he spent in his father’s house was a reward because the older son did not know struggle as his younger brother had learned to know.
To that point, the father said to the other son, “we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead (in sin) and is alive again, and was lost and is found (Luke 15:31).” The older son, though he was faithful, needed to move self out of the way for compassion.
I believe that sympathy and compassion is one of the most difficult things for believers to learn. You see, we live in a “what about me” society where everything seemingly orbits around us as we are the center of the universe. What I mean by this is that some of us struggle to understand the plight of others, when in actuality, the believer should always strive to understand what others are going through.
This should be the goal of believers because, again, this is the same compassion that God has for us. In His compassion for us, the Lord sympathizes (understands) what we are going through . Because the Lord understands what we are going through, He is willing to show us mercy and forgive us of our sins. When we have the same compassion for others, we will better be able to uplift all of those around us.