Sermon Illustrations

The Prodigal Son in the Key of F

Feeling footloose and frisky, a feather-brained fellow forced his father

to fork over his farthings. Fast he flew to foreign fields and

frittered his family’s fortune, feasting fabulously with floozies and

faithless friends. Flooded with flattery he financed a full-fledged

fling of "funny foam" and fast food.

Fleeced by his fellows in folly, facing famine, and feeling faintly

fuzzy, he found himself a feed-flinger in a filthy foreign farmyard.

Feeling frail and fairly famished, he fain would have filled his frame

with foraged food from the fodder fragments.

"Fooey," he figured, "my father’s flunkies fare far fancier," the

frazzled fugitive fumed feverishly, facing the facts. Finally,

frustrated from failure and filled with foreboding (but following his

feelings) he fled from the filthy foreign farmyard.

Faraway, the father focused on the fretful familiar form in the field

and flew to him and fondly flung his forearms around the fatigued

fugitive. Falling at his father’s feet, the fugitive floundered

forlornly, "Father, I have flunked and fruitlessly forfeited family


Finally, the faithful Father, forbidding and forestalling further

flinching, frantically flagged the flunkies to fetch forth the finest

fatling and fix a feast.

Faithfully, the father’s first-born was in a fertile field fixing fences

while father and fugitive were feeling festive. The foreman felt

fantastic as he flashed the fortunate news of a familiar family face

that had forsaken fatal foolishness. Forty-four feet from the farmhouse

the first-born found a farmhand fixing a fatling.

Frowning and finding fault, he found father and fumed, "Floozies and

foam from frittered family funds and you fix a feast following the

fugitive’s folderol"? The first-born’s fury flashed, but fussing was

futile. The frugal first-born felt it was fitting to feel "favored" for

his faithfulness and fidelity to family, father, and farm. In foolhardy

fashion, he faulted the father for failing to furnish a fatling and

feast for his friends. His folly was not in feeling fit for feast and

fatling for friends; rather his flaw was in his feeling about the

fairness of the

festival for the found fugitive.

His fundamental fallacy was a fixation on favoritism, not forgiveness.

Any focus on feeling "favored" will fester and friction will force the

frayed facade to fall. Frankly, the father felt the frigid first-born’s

frugality of forgiveness was formidable and frightful. But the father’s

former faithful fortitude and fearless forbearance to forgive both

fugitive and

first-born flourishes.

The farsighted father figured, "Such fidelity is fine, but what forbids

fervent festivity for the fugitive that is found? Unfurl the flags and

finery, let fun and frolic freely flow. Former failure is forgotten,

folly is forsaken. Forgiveness forms the foundation for future


Four facets of the father’s fathomless fondness for faltering fugitives


1) Forgiveness

2) Forever faithful friendship

3) Fadeless love, and

4) A facility for forgetting flaws

by Timothy E. Fulop

Timothy E. Fulop is Assistant Dean of Faculty, Columbia Theological Seminary

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