Summary: What would we think about someone who had spent all his inheritance on wild orgies, went bankrupt, dressed in rags, smelled of pig dung and wanted to come home? That’s our story today. It’s about a father and two sons and is found in Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32.
What would we think about someone who had spent all his inheritance on wild orgies, went bankrupt, dressed in rags, smelled of pig dung and wanted to come home? That’s our story today. It’s about a father and two sons and is found in Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32.
The Wild Child
Luke 15:11b-13 “A man had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ So he divided his wealth between them. And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living.”
The older son pictures those who have always attended church and never really gotten into serious trouble or strayed too far from God. The younger son pictures all the rest of us, those who have wandered far from God and gotten their lives in a real spiritual and financial mess.
A lazy and greedy second child bled his father dry, taking what he could of his inheritance before his father’s death. In our society as well as theirs that would be presumptuous. Verse 12 reveals that he divided the inheritance between them. Both children received their inheritance as a result.
Luke 15:14-16 “Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him.”
A son squandered his inheritance in a far, distant country. Unlike the Jews, whose law required them giving to the poor, not many other nations around believed in giving alms. Verse 16 confirms that no one gave him anything. He was in a desperate situation on the edge of death.
The Turning Point
Luke 15:17-20 But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.”’ So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.
We may want to be independent, but eventually realize how much we need each other. We may burn bridges, offend others, and cut off contact. We may never be able to repair some of our damaged relationships in this life, but we can always repair our damaged relationship with God.
We see the beginning of repentance in the prodigal son, coming to a better mind. Repentance is a change of mind, but as John told the Pharisees and Sadducees who came to his baptism, bring forth fruits of repentance. So the younger son made the difficult journey home in shame.
Would his father turn his back and disown him? Would the father demand a probation period? Would he accuse the wasteful son of embarrassing the family name? How do we treat those who are taking cautious, awkward steps out of the stench of life's tragically bad decisions, back to God?
The Loving Father
Luke 15:20-22 “And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet”
We have all distanced ourselves from God at times. We have turned our back on him and put heaven to shame. Yet, all that is forgotten in an instant when we make any effort to return. Even while the son was a long way off, his return brought great joy to his father.
Luke 15:23-24 “and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.”
If we are still a long way off, let’s begin making just a few steps in return to God. God is already running to greet us with great joy. The son’s confession was interrupted by his father’s joy. As we begin to pray again, God forgives before we even finish.
The Unforgiving Child