"THE PARABLES OF JESUS"
The Prodigal Son (Lk 15:11-32)
1. With the parable of "The Prodigal Son", Jesus reaches the apex in
His response to the charge against Him by the Pharisees and scribes…
a. Their accusation? "This man receives sinners and eats with
them." – Lk 15:2
b. His response? Three parables in which He illustrates "The
Father’s Yearning Love For The Lost" (Hendriksen)…
1) "The Lost Sheep" – Lk 15:3-7
2) "The Lost Coin" – Lk 15:8-10
3) "The Prodigal Son" – Lk 15:11-32
2. The parable of "The Prodigal Son" has been called…
a. "The pearl and crown of all the parables" (Trench)
b. Evangelium in Evangelio (i.e., The Gospel within the Gospel)
3. While it is commonly called "The Prodigal Son" (prodigal meaning
a. It can rightfully be called the parable of "The Loving Father"
b. For it reveals more about the love of the father than of the
sinfulness of the younger son
4. The parable also reveals much about the heart of the unforgiving
elder son, whose purpose in this parable is to rebuke those
unwilling to reach out and receive the lost who repent
[Let’s begin our study of this "pearl and crown of all the parables" by
reading it in its entirety, and then examining its major features
(please read Lk 15:11-32 )…]
I. ANALYZING THE PARABLE OF "THE PRODIGAL SON"
A. HIS DEPARTURE FROM HOME – Lk 15:11-13a
1. The younger son asks his father to give him his portion of the
inheritance due him
a. According to the Law of Moses, the eldest son received a
double portion – cf. Deu 21:17
b. Since there were two sons, the younger son would receive
2. Like so many impatient young people today, the younger son…
a. Desired to be free from parental restraints
b. Desired to have his father’s inheritance "now"
3. The father grants him his request, and the younger son soon
takes all that he has to a distant country
B. HIS LIFE ABROAD – Lk 15:13b-19
1. With "prodigal" (wasteful, extravagant) living, he soon
depletes his possessions
2. His poverty is complicated by a famine striking the country
3. In desperation, he hires himself to another to feed his pigs
a. This would be most degrading to a Jew, for pigs were
considered unclean – cf. Lev 11:7
b. According to Hendriksen, there was a saying current among
the Jews at that time: "May a curse come upon the man who
cares for swine!"
c. With great hunger, he would have gladly eaten what was
given to the pigs
4. He finally comes to his senses…
a. Recalling how well fed were his father’s hired servants
b. They had plenty, and here he was, perishing with hunger!
— So to hunger and humiliation, there is now added
5. He resolves to return home…
a. To confess his sin against heaven (i.e., God’s will) and
b. To confess his unworthiness to be called his father’s son
c. To be made only like one of his father’s hired servants
C. HIS RETURN HOME – Lk 15:20-32
1. Warmly welcomed by his father – Lk 15:20-24
a. Carrying out his resolution, the prodigal son returns home
b. While still a great way away, the father sees him (had he
been looking for his son?)
c. The father’s great love is immediately evident…
1) He has compassion
2) He runs to greet his son
3) He throws his arms around his son’s neck
4) He kisses him
d. The son quickly confesses his sin, and his unworthiness to
be called a son
e. But before he can even say "Make me one of your hired
servants", the father joyfully calls upon his servants
1) Bring out the best robe and put it on him
2) Put a ring on his hand, and sandals on his feet
3) Kill the fatted calf in order to celebrate his return
— All of which serve to reinstate the son as a person of
importance and authority
f. What this means to the father is touchingly summarized in
1) "for this my son was dead and is alive again"
2) "he was lost and is found"
— Certainly any parent can relate to the emotions
expressed by this father!
2. Jealously rejected by his brother – Lk 15:25-32
a. The elder son, returning from the field, wonders what the
celebration is about
b. When told by one of the servants, he angrily refuses to go in
c. The father comes out, and pleads with him…
1) The elder son’s complaints are:
a) For many years he had served his father
b) He had never transgressed his father’s will
c) The father had never provided such a celebration for him
d) But when the son who squandered his father’s inheritance
returns home, the fatted calf is killed for him!
— Isn’t it easy to sympathize with the elder son?
2) The father’s response:
a) Note first how tenderly the father treats THIS son
(addressing him as "child" in the Greek)
b) He recognizes the elder son’s faithfulness ("you are
always with me")
c) He reassures the son that the remaining inheritance
is his ("all that I have is yours")
d) Yet the father maintains that it is right to
1/ "your brother…" (note the contrast)
a/ The elder son had called his brother, "this son
b/ The father emphasizes the brotherly relation,
2/ "…was dead and is alive again, and was lost and
is found." (repeating what was said to the
servants in Lk 15:24)
[So ends this "pearl and crown" of all the parables, leaving us with a
sharp contrast between the love of the father and the jealousy of the
elder brother. No further explanation is given, but none is really
needed if we just contemplate upon this parable in its context.
But to make sure we don’t overlook the obvious, just a few thoughts in
II. APPLYING THE PARABLE OF "THE PRODIGAL SON"
A. THE MAIN ELEMENTS ARE EASILY DISCERNED…
1. The father symbolizes our heavenly Father
2. The prodigal son in coming home represents the penitent sinner
3. The elder brother reflected the attitude of the self-righteous
Pharisees and scribes – cf. Lk 15:2
B. THE KEY LESSONS SHOULD BE EVIDENT AS WELL…
1. Our heavenly Father loves His children
a. Even when they turn away from Him, His hearts yearns for
them in love
b. But especially when they return with a penitent attitude
1) There is "joy in heaven" – Lk 15:7
2) There is "joy in the presence of the angels of God" – Lk 15:10
3) It was right to "make merry and be glad" – Lk 15:32
2. The faithful children of God need to understand the proper way
to receive the erring child who returns to God
a. Not with any sibling jealousy, but with joyous celebration!
– Lk 15:32
b. With a strong reaffirmation of love:
1) As illustrated by the father in the parable
2) As Paul instructed the Corinthians in 2 Co 2:6-8
1. "The Prodigal Son", along with the two previous parables, was told
by Jesus to teach these important lessons to the Pharisees and scribes
2. Yet while directed toward them, imagine how these parables comforted
the hearts of those "tax collectors and sinners" who had drawn near
to Jesus to hear Him! – Lk 15:1
a. Though considered unacceptable by the religious elite, they
learned that they could be accepted by God!
b. That God was seeking for them, and would lovingly receive them if
they would repent!
— Is this the same message we convey to those lost in sin, but who
are willing to draw near and listen to the gospel?
3. We must never forget that it was Jesus who said:
"Those who are well do not need a physician, but those who are
sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to
repentance." (Lk 5:31-32)
Dear friend, have you like the prodigal son "come to himself",
realizing how far one falls when they turn away from God?
May you be moved to repentance this by parable, "the gospel within the
gospel"; and may you never forget that your heavenly Father anxiously
awaits your reconciliation with Him!
Together with God, we offer you the gospel of Christ (cf. Mk 16:15-16)
as a message of reconciliation:
"Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were
pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be
reconciled to God." (2 Co 5:20)