The Prodigal Son
The meaning of the parable is to be derived from verses 1-2 (READ).
The context is the God is merciful to sinners. What a profound truth this is!
From this passage we want to notice 4 points: 1) first, the long hard road of sin; 2) secondly, the road of repentance; 3) thirdly, the compassionate reception; 4) and fourthly, the resentment of the self-righteous.
We want to make three applications as we go through these points this morning. We want to apply the message of the prodigal to our natural children, to backsliders, and to lost sinners.
1. First we want to notice the long hard road of sin (Verses 11-16).
The man had two sons.
How different children are. Some are obedient and compliant, others are wayward and rebellious. However hard you try as a parent to lead them and council them in the right way, some children seem bound to go down that hard road of sin.
Children of God seem to be this way also. Some are compliant to the will of God, while others seem prone to backsliding out of the way.
Lost sinners are also like this. Some are bound for the road of deepest sin and disgrace, while others follow the good, moral road of life.
We notice the portion of goods spoken of here (in the Jewish economy the elder son got a double portion (Deuteronomy 21:17), the younger received 1/3 of the father’s estate). Children expect a “portion of goods” from their parents when they leave home. All men expect a portion of goods from this world, and God gives to every man his portion, even if they don’t give Him the credit and the praise for it.
“Not many days…”. He wasted no time getting away from the father’s house and from the good way. His mind was set and determined to travel that sinful path. He couldn’t wait to get started down that road of sin and shame. This is the way of the rebellious child, the backslider, and the rebellious lost sinner.
He took his journey into a far country. To the Jews this meant a heathen, Gentile county where God told them not to go. For the wayward child it means to go away from the good teachings of their parents. For the backslider, it is to go away from the teachings of the Word and the Church. For the lost sinner, it means the depths of Satan’s kingdom, and away from God. How far away these roads lead away from God and from what is good and right!
He wasted his substance. In Satan’s kingdom. With harlot’s, drunkenness, gambling, and all manner of riotous, ungodly living.
He spent all that he had. He had nothing left of his portion that He received from his father. Wayward children waste all their parents substance. Backsliders waste the good graces and spiritual provisions that God provided for them. Lost sinners waste away all the God gave them in Satan’s kingdom.
There arose a mighty famine. Not by coincidence, but by providence. God uses such things to awake the wayward.
He began to be in want. Not only were his pleasures departed, but now he can feel the consequences of his sins.
He became a servant to sinners, which are the enemies of his soul. He makes his occupation feeding swine, which was forbidden to Jews. So the wayward son, and backsliding saint, and lost sinner are brought to serve sin. And sin is a harsh and cruel taskmaster!
He would have gladly eaten the pig’s food. This is how far down that sin will take you.
No man gave to him. Once this world gets you where it wants you, it will show what it really is. This world isn’t your friend. Lost sinners aren’t your friends. Satan and the demons certainly aren’t your friend.
Now, beloved, all this didn’t happen by accident, but by providence!
2. Secondly we want to notice the road of repentance (Verses 17-19).
He came to Himself in repentance. He saw his sinful ways and miserable condition. He saw that his father’s home and way of life was far better; even for a servant. Eventually many wayward children come to themselves, or are brought to themselves. Eventually backsliders come to themselves. Eventually the elect sinners come to themselves by the grace and power of God.
He said “I will arise and go”, that is, in repentance. A person must do more than just come to themselves, but they must arise and go to God!
I have sinned against heaven and before thee. In true repentance a person will acknowledge their sin. A wayward child will not only see the mess they are in, but will acknowledge their sin against their parents. Likewise a backslidden Christian will be brought to acknowledge their sin. And the elect sinner will acknowledge his sins, and not just remorse over his situation.
I am not worthy to be called a son. The wayward son will recognize and acknowledge his unworthiness.
3. Thirdly we want to notice the compassionate reception of the father (Verses 20-24).
But when he was yet afar off. It is as if the father could see has son far off in the depths of sin and despair. As if the father knew all along where his son was and the trouble he was in. This is the way of both natural parents and of the heavenly Father. Parents know where their children are, and where sin will take them, and long for them to return. God the Father knows where His backslidden children are and what they are into, and desires their return. God the Father knows where His lost elect sinners are, and brings famine in their lives, and awakes them in repentance to turn from sin and come to Him.
The father had compassion on His son. So will any good parent. So will God on the backslider that returns. So will God on the sinner that comes in repentance and faith.
The father honored his son. He bestowed great honor upon such an unworthy rebellious child…wow!!! God is so good to unworthy sinners! How much His abundant grace is bestowed upon rebellious sinners! The best robe could be likened to the robe of righteousness of Christ. His filthy rags of sin were exchanged for the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ! The ring was a seal of sonship. The Father acknowledged his unworthy child as his son and not a servant as he would have been content to be. The shoes were a token of freedom on sonship as servants went barefoot. In Christ we are more than servants, but we are made free.
He killed the fatted, or the prize calf for His son. This could be likened to the sacrifice of Christ, the perfect prize sacrifice for sinners.
This my son was dead…dead in trespasses and in sins, but now he is alive again. He didn’t make himself alive, but His Father make him alive by giving repentance and faith.
He was lost and is found. Lost in sin, and shame, and despair, but is found. He didn’t find himself, but the Father found him where he was, and led him back home by His Spirit.
This was cause for great joy! There is joy over a child who comes back to its parents. There is joy over a backslider who returns to fellowship with the Lord. There is joy over one lost sinner who repents and believes in Jesus as their Savior.
Yes, the Heavenly Father is very loving and compassionate to His children. He seeks them and saves them, He brings them back from their wanderings and restores them to the highest place of honor and fellowship with Himself. This is true of both the backslider and the lost elect sinner. May we earthly parents also be quick to receive a wayward child back home again.
4. Fourthly we want to notice the resentment of the self righteous (verses 25-32).
He was angry. He would not go celebrate his brothers return.
He was envious of his brother. “You never gave me a kid, but you gave this rascal everything!!!”
He never saw himself as a lawbreaker or a sinner. He said that he always did his Father’s commandments.
He accused his father of blessing wickedness.
He had no place of mercy in his heart toward his brother.
Have you ever been a prodigal son? Perhaps you are a prodigal even this day. Are you a wayward, rebellious child to your parents? Are you backslidden this morning? Are you a lost elect sinner that Jesus came to save?
In any case, repent and come home! Child, come home to your parents good way. Backslidden child of God, come home to fellowship with the Lord. Lost sinner, come home to the Father in Heaven and be saved.
God is a loving and compassionate heavenly Father and will abundantly receive you. How about you as a parent to your children. Are you willing to receive your penitent child.
Perhaps you are that self-righteous son who despises your brother’s return. You too need to repent. Perhaps you were never a true believer, but just had a form of religion.
May God bless this message to each one’s need this morning!