Luke 15:11-32: The Parable of the Lost Son
11 And he said, A certain man had two sons:12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.17 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.25 Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing.26 And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant.27 And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.28 And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him.29 And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:30 But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.31 And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.32 It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.
Let’s dive deeper into each character:
Young Son: He was unsettled; wanting what he wanted, when he wanted it. Once he gained his portion of his father’s wealth, he went out into the ‘real world’ and partied and spent it all. He didn’t know how to provide for himself. He was too proud to admit he was wrong. (Proverbs 16:18) He tried to work- feeding pigs- which was degrading for a Jew. He realized that his dad’s servants were better off than he was at this point. He devised a plan to go home and be his servant. *Compare this son to Jonah and his stubbornness (Jonah 1:1-17), refusing to go to Ninevah. The storm came (it costs something when you refuse or ignore God), but God had a Plan. He prepared a fish. Finally Jonah got tired of being in the fish, (just as the son got tired of feeding pigs- he realized that their dad had everything he needed and questioned why he left to begin with.) Only God can satisfy peace and contentment; until you know God; you don’t know love. Sometimes we don’t walk the straightest path, but don’t think God can’t use you. “Take up your cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24) “From the belly of hell (Jonah 2:2): You are never too far from God for Him to hear your cry.
Dad: He knew his son would leave when he gave him his inheritance, but he let him go anyway to learn through his experiences. He expected his son to return, and waited for him, making preparations. Just as God expects us to return and prepares a place for us in Heaven. (*Comparable to when the shepherd lost one sheep, left all the others to find that one lost, then parades it around in love when found). (Luke 15:1-7) What a party! As soon as he saw him return, he ran to him and forgave him. He wouldn’t accept his son as a servant, he wanted him back as a son. *Note- he never asked what intentions his youngest son had when he gave him the money; he never condemned his son when he came back. He never said one negative thing; he was just glad to have his son back home. He gave him his best clothes and ring (clarifying his status). God loves us this same way. He waits for us (and sees us before we know) to come back. He is making preparations in anticipation of our return to celebrate.
Oldest Son: On the exterior, he looked good; he worked and stayed with his father. But it was superficial; he was glad his brother left and he no longer had to share their dad and his business. He became angry when his brother came back and had an attitude that proclaimed he was entitled to something because of all of the work he did for their dad. (Ephesians 2:8) Dad told him that everything he had was his to share, but that the oldest son ‘never asked for it’… He didn’t share anything his dad gave him- he kept it selfishly. He tried to make it about himself. We often make it about us. We don’t share what our Father has given us with others like we should. We are to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 28:39) Everything is about God; and God is love. (1 John 4:8) We need to be showing love and compassion like Jesus, whether it’s given to us or not.
God is never surprised; by anything; including our lack of following His direction. And we should never be too surprised at His Plan. He has a reason for the season He puts us through. God lets us leave so we understand His Love when we come back. He loves us in spite of us.