Summary: A look at the first half of the parable of the Prodigal Son. Who is the Father? How did the son reach the point of abandoning his family and the point of return. How did the Father react? Wonderful parable!
This is the fourth week of the Lenten season and in the Scripture we are about to look at one of the most famous parables ever taught by Jesus. And, when we look at this parable we will, at this time, only be looking at the first half of the parable.
As we start to take a look at this incredible parable we need to remember that Jesus has set His face to go to Jerusalem where He knows that He will be betrayed into the hands of the Jewish rulers and the Roman occupation forces and that He will be put to death in obedience to His Father’s will as a perfect sacrifice for our sins.
In this portion of Scripture Jesus is being criticized by the Jewish religious leaders of the day who were upset that He, a rabbi, would associate with those whose lives were full of sin, and, He would even go so far as to eat with them which would make Him ceremonially impure. This disgusted them.
In response to the grumblings of the religious leaders Jesus tells three coordinated parables. The first being the parable of the Lost Sheep, the second being the parable of the Lost Coin and the third being the parable of the Lost Son or the parable of the Prodigal Son.
“There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.
“After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs.
“He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!
“I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’
“So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it.
“Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”
Now, the parable continues on into another section that deals with the response of the older brother. But, today, let’s take a look at this first section and see a tiny portion of what it has to say to us.
As Jesus went along there were crowds of disciples who followed Him and they were just absorbing every word that He would speak. In addition to this, many of the disciples or followers in the crowd were those who were looked down upon by the religious rulers of the day because of their vocation and their sinful lives.
We can see this in
Verses 1 and 2 of the 15th chapter where it says
“Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.’”
Before we can understand anything about this parable we need to know who the Father is. The Father represents God the Father. Now, this can lead to a huge amount of misunderstanding and distorted images of God if you have had a particularly bad father.
You might have had a father who was extremely strict and the only emotion he was capable of was anger and whenever you broke any of his rules you would suffer.
He might have been the type of guy who would say, “If I ever catch you taking a shower that lasts longer than 47 seconds again you’ll have to take an ice cold shower for 7 hours and then dry off by rolling in the snow naked! Do you understand me?”