Summary: God’s conditions of acceptance are different from man’s.
Jesus told this story about a young man who had made all the wrong choices. He represents all that we are in this life. He represents the young girl who gets pregnant and runs from her parents, or the son who gets messed up on dope and does the same. More than that though, he represents us in the way we respond to God.
God brings us into this life with but one purpose, and that is to glorify Him. I don’t care who you are, where you were born, what color you are, how much money you have or what part of town you live in, you were created with one and only one purpose – to glorify God. As we grow, we develop talents and abilities that complement the giftedness that God gives us, and all combined can and should be used in such a way as to reflect our adoration of God.
However, like the prodigal, we take what our Father has given us and all too often do our own thing, and before we know it, we begin to wonder whether God can ever really accept us. You know all the ways people mess up their lives: they jump in and out of relationships, destroy families, ruin their reputations, fall into gross acts of sin or habits that absolutely destroy their lives.
One of the problems I usually run into here is that someone or several just don’t identify with that sort of life. You are like the other son who said to his father,
“All these years I have served you, neither transgressed I your commandments.”
You’ve lived a good life. You’ve been faithful to your wife and kids. You’ve put in your time at work and have been a good citizen. You’ve not done anything really bad, don’t have any addictions, and work hard at living a good, morally upright life. All this talk about sin and mistakes and destroying a life is foreign to you, and I want you to notice that it was foreign to the Pharisees as well. That’s why they didn’t understand why Jesus was eating with the sinners. They are the reason Jesus was even telling this story, and now I want you to listen to me as I tell you that even you, no matter how good or upright you may think you are, must meet God’s two conditions if you want His acceptance. What are the conditions?
You Must See The Truth
In verse 16 the young man in our story had hit bottom. He was so low he was eating the pig’s slop. Remember that the Jews didn’t just eat pork, they thought them to be unclean and avoided them as much as possible. He’s not just working with them now, but he’s eating their food just to get a meal, but we find out that he realizes how low he’s come. Even his dad’s slaves were better off that this!
But listen, there are so many people who never see where they are. The Bible says that “all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory,” but how many people there are who will argue with you over that. “I don’t smoke or steal or cuss. I don’t kill or steal or have adultery.” But you are at your core a sinner. You were born a sinner and because of that you sin. It may not be the sins others less fortunate or less moral than you commit, but you still sin.