According to Webster’s Dictionary, a prodigal is "one who spends or gives lavishly and foolishly." It is characterized by spending money or resources freely and recklessly, being wastefully extravagant.
Jesus told the story of a prodigal. He was the younger son of a wealthy landowner.
“There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living” (Luke 15:11-13).
While his older brother stayed home and devotedly and dependably worked on the farm, the younger rebelled. He refused to wait for his father to die but demanded his inheritance... now! With a bankroll in his pocket, the young man caught the first flight to Las Vegas.
As if the well would never run dry and the money would never run out, he rose each morning with a passion to party. His friends were bought and paid for by the young man's generosity. "Another round of beers for all my buddies!" He gambled. He frequented the houses of postitution. He was the last one to stagger out of the pub at midnight.
He was a prodigal!
But the well did run dry. The money did run out. And when he couldn’t buy the drinks, his friends weren’t friends any more. “He went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything” (Luke 15:15-16)
Picture it … a young Jewish boy slopping the hogs. Destitute. Ravenously hungry. Broken. Defeated. Ashamed. His only hope was at home. “I will arise and go to my father!” (Luke 15:18).
With eyes downcast, the boy fell into his waiting and watching daddy’s outstretched arms. “I’m so sorry dad. I was foolish. Can I move home? I know I don’t deserve it…”
“Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found” (Luke 15:22-24).
A prodigal is one who spends or gives lavishly, foolishly, freely, recklessly, extravagantly. So, who was the prodigal? The boy or his father?
The Parable of the Prodigal depicts me as the son. I’m sinful, impatient, wasteful, and reckless. The Parable depicts God as the Father. He’s waiting for the rebellious son to return. He’s welcoming and forgiving. He’s abundantly, excessively, extravagantly, lavishly prodigal! That’s amazing grace.