Summary: This message is a exposition of the Parable of the Prodigal. The message demonstrates how rich the parable is and how the Middle Eastern context adds to our understanding of the meaning and application of the three main characters of the parable.

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The Parable of the Lost Sons

Luke 15: 11-32

Introduction – Going to Cyprus for an extended stay of 3 months when I was 3yrs old back in 1963, I experienced village life that plunged me into a context that in some ways probably resembled something of the village setting of the parable of the Prodigal Son. The included the family context, the community context, the place of honour and shame and cultural practices.

Context of the parable - the original audience; one of a series of 3 parables; liet wort (repeated words indicating significance) - lost, found; the main characters in the narrative of the parable.

The following material of this message is from Kenneth Bailey’s book, The Cross and the Prodigal, (IVP 2005). The major point divisions are mine.

This message is divided into the following:

1. Death Wish & Division Lk 15:11-12

2. Departure, Depravity & Determination Lk 15:13-19

3. Deliverance & Declaration Lk 15:20-24

4. Defiance & Discretion Lk 15: 25-32

1. Death Wish & Division Lk 15:11-12

The Younger Son:

i. The request was mutiny/rebellion – impatient for his father to die

ii. Driven by self-centred pride

iii. A relationship is broken - not a law Deut 21:17 – the father’s heart broken

iv. Doesn’t care how much others in the family will suffer

v. He is ungrateful

vi. There is no trust

vii. He demands privilege without responsibility-wants substance not inheritance

viii. Cuts himself off from his roots & breaks fellowship with his father

ix. Refuse to share in partnership with the father

x. He is totally responsible

(See Bailey, The Cross and the Prodigal, 42-44)

The Older Son:

i. He knows the entire story

ii. He refuses to be mediator

iii. Silent refusal –a selfishness

iv. The departure he is still silent

(See Bailey, The Cross and the Prodigal, 44-46)

The Father:

i. Normal response – refusal & punishment

ii. He grants freedom even to turn away from him – God grants us freedom even to reject his love

iii. He does not severe the relationship with his son – the son breaks it

iv. This image of God is not patriarchal – this is the model of God

(See Bailey, The Cross and the Prodigal, 47)

We see the from the parable at the outset each reveal their own character –

We know the Younger Son by what he asks

We know the Father by what He does

We know the Older Son by what he does not do

2. Departure, Depravity and Determination Lk 15:13-19


V13. A speedy departure –

Liquidates the assets quickly – ‘got together all he had’ in the Gk means ‘turned into cash’ (synagagon panta).

‘set off for a distant country’ Gk apedemensen means he travelled away from his own people – to the Gentiles.

‘squandered his wealth’ dieskorpisen literally scattered

Extravagant living – spendthrift

(See Bailey, The Cross and the Prodigal, 52-54)


V14 ‘spent’ is the Gk word for squander In the midst of deep trouble the young man will not return. He becomes his own worst enemy. Return meant acknowledging a host of things: immaturity, irresponsibility, dependence on others, thought of others, humiliation and more.

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