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Summary: One of the most beautiful stories of the Scriptures is that of the prodigal son, the younger son who left home, got into deep difficulty, wasted his life in riotous living, and ended up in the pigpen.

Illustrations for Biblical Preaching Prodigal Son

One of the most beautiful stories of the Scriptures is that of the prodigal son, the younger son who left home, got into deep difficulty, wasted his life in riotous living, and ended up in the pigpen.

Dr. J. Vernon McGee once asked, “Do you know the difference between the son in that pigpen and the pig? The difference is that no pig has ever said to himself, “I will arise and go to my father.”

Blessed Lord, You have caused all Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning. Grant that we may so hear them, read, mark, learn, and take them to heart that, by the patience and comfort of Your holy Word, we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life. … through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Luke 15:1–3 ESV

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” So he told them this parable:

In fact, Jesus told not one, but three parables, two of which clearly dealt with loss. The first two, the parable of the lost sheep and the lost coin, illustrated the joy heaven experiences over a repentant sinner, even greater than that experienced over those who have no need of it.

Leaving aside the biblical statement that “there is no one who is righteous,” in other words, no one who does not need to repent, Jesus’ message was directed at people who thought that they had no need to repent. At least, that is how we are inclined to view the Pharisees in particular, because that is how they are presented. In fairness, Luke later presents Pharisees as being part of the church in Jerusalem (Acts 15:5), and the Jerusalem community generally viewed them as being zealous for the Law, to the point that their standards of righteousness were generally respected.

That’s why it is rather easy for us to emulate the “righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees (Matt 5:20) when we seek to establish our righteousness through the Law of God. Generally speaking, on Sunday morning, I am unlikely to be speaking to any criminals, not because I don’t want to, but because I’m in a place that they don’t usually feel comfortable entering, not while openly admitting that they are, in fact, wanted for a crime.

Thieves, in particular, don’t go around advertising their career choice. After all, success in thievery requires a high degree of stealth. Robbery, by contrast, calls for boldness, the boldness to stand flatfooted and demand that your victims turn over their goods to you. Last week, we saw a parable about a thief, a fig tree that stole resources and land but gave nothing by promising fruit without delivering any. Today, the object of our learning is a robber.

Luke 15:11–13 ESV

And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living.

A robber, you ask? Isn’t that rather harsh? The text identifies this young man as the younger of two sons. This son, however, comes to us as one who makes a demand that violates the 4th Commandment:

Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation, 2017 Edition The Fourth Commandment

The Fourth Commandment

Honor your father and your mother.

What does this mean?

We should fear and love God so that we do not despise or anger our parents and other authorities, but honor them, serve and obey them, love and cherish them.

By his actions, this younger son showed that he did not honor his father, did not appreciate his father’s diligence and perseverance in building an inheritance that he could pass on to his two sons. He did not appreciate that the Lord had blessed him to have his father still with him. He demanded that to which he was not entitled, even as a son.

It is interesting, how the Scripture shows us how this was resolved. The father “divided his property between them.” We just glide over those words, but something really significant happened while you were sleeping. Both of the sons received their inheritance on that day! The younger son demanded property unlawfully, but the older son received stolen goods! Don’t worry, we’ll come back to that later....

Most of you know the rest of the story, how the younger son went into a far country and wasted his goods, only to get caught up in a severe famine after all his money was gone. I imagine that not very much time had passed either, since he “squandered his property in reckless living.” When you don’t care about your future, it usually doesn’t take long for you to waste it.

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