One of the most familiar stories in scripture is the parable of the “Prodigal Son” in Luke 15. The word “prodigal” is man’s making, the scripture does not use it, but the word fits; he did waste some of his life. The story of the prodigal son is part of a parable, not a complete parable within itself. Luke said that Christ spoke a “parable (singular) unto them,” (Luke 15:3) which consisted of two other events. One event was a lady losing a coin and really freaking out and the other was a man who jeopardized ninety-nine (99) sheep in the wilderness while he tried to find one. The contrast was that there is no comparison between the price of things or animals as compared to a soul. Both events paled in the face of a lost son and was a bit of irony that Christ used on the Pharisees and scribes.
Untold numbers of evangelistic sermons have been preached about the prodigal son. The message has brought comfort and consolation to many who have wasted their lives as the son, and who were received back in the family and society. It is a message of “second chances” which all of us have experienced. One would be hard pressed to find anyone who could not emphasize with the wayward son in some point of the narrative.
The message has given myriads of hope to parents who kept looking for their wayward children to come home and even today, to those who are experiencing these very heartaches. There are just so many lessons and themes one can touch on in these twelve (12) verses,) Luke 15:12-24.
We can feel the emotions from both sides of the situation. Some of us have experienced both the son’s problems and the parent’s. We can do all kind of mental evaluations on why the son left home, but the Bible doesn’t say. I think the older brother would have caused many to leave. Young people rebelling against parental authority is certainly not new. Nothing is mentioned about the young man being wrong in leaving. We do get a hint at his attitude before and after the “hog pen” experience. In v. 12 he says, “Give me…” and in v. 19, he says, “Make me...” He began his waywardness by demanding his “rights” and triumphed at home by confessing his “wrongs.” He was more than willing to be his father’s servant and to come under his total authority. If we ever get this “authority” thing down right, life becomes joy, peace and happiness. Until we do, “hog pen” food is pretty much our norm.
There are so many lessons in these few verses. Every life will experience a drought. There are times when all run out of friends. It seems that we only come to ourselves in times of trouble. Good decisions can be made in bad places. We can make a lot of promises, but nothing happens until we get up and try. The trip home required courage because the son had no guarantee he would be accepted. He did not know if his father would let him come back, or, if so, under what conditions? Would he be on probation or trial? The son’s actions proved that he meant business and was not just trying to get on daddy’s good side.
From the father’s point of view he seemed to have looked for the boy to return every day. Since he saw the son “a great way off” (v. 20), it indicates he was looking for him. It seems the father could have gone and gotten the boy out of the hog pen on any day, but if he had, the boy would not have learned this great lesson. Many a young man never learns the “hog pen” lesson because the family keeps jerking him out of it. Daddy loved him enough to let him learn some valuable lessons. When he saw the boy, he ran to him, removing all doubt about whether he would be accepted back home or not. The daddy asked no apology and made no demands. It was at this moment that the son could have just kept his mouth shut and enjoyed his reception home. How many of us have made resolutions as the young man did in the hog pen, only to forget them when the heat is off? This young man followed through on his pledge. Note his words, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.” (Luke 15:21)
The father requested the “best robe,” not just a robe. (Remember, he is returning from a hog pen!) Daddy also requested shoes and a ring. Servants may have robes and shoes, but not rings. A ring is not a necessity, but a luxury, reserved for people of wealth and importance. A side note here to inform us that the son didn’t get possessions in the hog pen, only when he returned home. His relationship of being a son to his father is the same, whether in the hog pen or at home. The fellowship took on a whole new dimension when he got home.
As we look at this event, some interesting facts begin to arise. When the son left home, it was obvious that he wanted to leave. We can probably assume that he wasn’t happy at home. It is also obvious that he wanted to see other things and do other things. What is interesting is that everything he left to see and experience he found right at home.
He found happiness back at his house where Daddy was. He had experienced the “pleasures of sin for a season…” (Hebrews 11:25) He may have left to find love, fine clothes, money, dancing, partying, good music and good food; now he finds it all at the place where he left. It seems that the only person that was changed by this experience was the “prodigal son.” It is amazing how that once we change our thinking, it things and people change.
Here is an evil that turned out to be good, the son is forgiving and the experience is great gain. Who knows, had the boy not fallen, he might have ended up as his brother. No one can change their past, but everyone can change their future. “ And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
Keep Looking Up!