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The Parable of the Prodigal Son

11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.

17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father's hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

25 “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 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.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’” Luke 15:11-32

The entire 15th Chapter of Luke expresses the Father’s love, concern, and desire for humankind, that all should come to repentance and that none should be lost and the utter joy of the Father when repentance happens. Jesus illustrates in this story (parable) that there is a man with two sons, who loved his children, and the children understood their worth in the relationship, that they were also sons and not slaves and had their own free will. As Christians looking at this parable, we have a similar spiritual relationship with God and Christ presents a story that we might understand from our human perspective, the spiritual application meant for us.

The father’s unfailing love for his children is evident throughout the story in his dealings with his children, whether the wayward son who returned home or in teaching the self-righteous brother, that tenure and commitment do not entitle one to a larger reward and that there should be joy in his heart for his brother’s return.

Lastly, looking at the younger son many may feel that the older brother was somewhat justified in his attitude toward his sibling because he was not committed, and he made poor choices in his past life. However, this situation should surely convey that our God has love for each of us, if we only choose to repent from the heart, understanding that the Father’s love and grace are renewed and not diminished. A look at maybe why the father in this story accepted his youngest son home with open arms.

The younger brother repented not just in words, but in humility, he realizes that even the servants who served his father had it better than he had in a life of sin. Pride did not keep this child from returning to his father, spiritually, do we have the same attitude? If we do not read carefully, we will miss the point that the younger brother did not attempt to blame nor point the finger at anyone but himself for going astray and the life he chose to live, which is consistent with James 1:14, which says that we are drawn away by our own lusts. As Christians, we must never let pride get in the way of our hearts that would allow our actions to demonstrate that we have repented to God and we must cultivate love in one another to pray for the same return of our wayward brethren and welcome them back home to the Church, which is His Body (see Ephesians 1:22-23).

Damon Long


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