Luke 15 speaks of God’s forgiveness and unconditional love in three different parables. The story of the prodigal son is as applicable today as when Jesus first spoke it to the scribes and Pharisees complaining about the company He kept.
“Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him. And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, ‘This Man receives sinners and eats with them.’” Luke 15:1-2
Jesus told us that He came to save sinners.
“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” 1 Timothy 1:15 (NKJV)
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10 (NIV)
Many of us have our own family prodigal. They are not a rarity in the church body. They belong to the rich and the poor. And if the truth were told, many of us would admit to our own youthful years of spontaneous adventures filled with selfish and foolish actions chasing after sin.
But we serve a Creator who loves us even while we sin. Like the prodigal, we may have taken advantage of a parent’s generosity and lived extravagantly, not thinking beyond the next day. Although it takes many years to create a fortune, it can be lost in a matter of days.
“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.”’” Luke 15:17-19 (NKJV)
There were no smartphones in the day of Christ and Scripture states that this younger son journeyed to a far country to waste his possessions on prodigal living (Luke 15:13). There was no communication between father and son after the inheritance was dispersed. In fact, there is evidence to suggest that the father considered his youngest son not only lost but also dead.
“’It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’” Luke 15:32 (NKJV)
How often have we received a blessing from God only to run away and ignore our fellowship with Him? How many of us, after living foolishly, have come to our senses and returned home? We should make note of two important points found in this parable. The first point is that the prodigal son had to come to his senses before a return home was worthy of consideration. This happened after his pleasure ride of sinful living and after he found himself in a great deal of discomfort. And in coming to his senses, he found a repentant heart.
The father of the prodigal saw him in the distance and ran with joy to welcome him home. He did this before he knew the condition of his heart. The son he had lost was home. Only after the father welcomed him with a kiss did he discover the contrite heart of his son. Once lost, he was found. Considered dead to sin, he was once again alive.
“And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’” Luke 15:20-21 (NKJV)
All of us are a mixed bag of imperfections. We will never be perfect until we reach our eternal home. However, we should strive for perfection, living as imitators of Christ.
If you have a prodigal, trust God with his/her care and keep praying. We may want to know the details of their foolish living but God, in His mercy, limits our communication with them. HE spares us the details. And so, with endless hope, keep your eyes on the road and look with anticipation for the homecoming of your prodigal.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 (NKJV)
“Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Matthew 5:48 (NKJV)
“We please Him most, not by frantically trying to make ourselves good, but by throwing ourselves into His arms with all our imperfections and believing that He understands everything… and still loves us.” ~A.W. Tozer