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The Pastor's Blog

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Maybe the most well-known of Jesus’ parables is the story of the “Lost Son” … the “Prodigal Son.” It’s not a story about one son. It’s the story of two sons and their dad… a repentant son… a resentful son… and a ready and waiting father.


The younger brother gets the most press. He’s called the prodigal due to his reckless and wasteful living. At the beginning of the parable, Jesus tells of a young man who demanded his share of his daddy’s estate, even though daddy was still alive. “ ‘Father, give me the share of the estate I have coming to me.’ So he distributed the assets to them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered together all he had and traveled to a distant country, where he squandered his estate in foolish living. After he had spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he had nothing” (Luke 15:12-14).


The prodigal didn’t have a legitimate right to the proceeds of the estate and wouldn’t until after his dad’s passing. His selfish and greedy demands must have been a lethal stab to his father’s heart.


Upon receiving the unwarranted, generous and gracious gift, he headed for Las Vegas… that wicked place in “a distant country.” He didn’t invest his new-found wealth or apply his assets to a capital project. Rather, he drank like a fish, played the slots, bet on the ponies, rented prostitutes for pleasure, and “wasted his substance with riotous living” (Luke 15:13, KJV).


Finally, when he’d squandered everything, he “came to his senses” (Luke 15:17). Penniless. Defeated. Embarrassed. Broken. “How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food, and here I am dying of hunger! I’ll get up, go to my father … I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. I’m no longer worthy to be called your son” (Luke 15:17-19). The prodigal son became the repentant son.


While his brother had been playing and partying, the older brother had “been slaving many years” (Luke 15:29), always obedient, dutiful, religiously devoted to his dad. So, when junior returned home, still smelling like pig slop, the older son demonstrated his greed and selfishness. He wasn’t concerned about his brother’s well-being, but only about the remaining estate, which he’d earned by his hard work and faithful service. It was his! All his! While the younger brothers repented and returned, the older brother trusted in his own merit, his own efforts, his own standing. The religious son became the resentful son.


The hero in the story is the Father. He was ready and waiting for the prodigal to return. He rejoiced with a great celebration! Hallelujah! A wayward one repented and returned!


Webster defines prodigal as “one who spends or gives lavishly and foolishly.” The younger son lived foolishly! He wasted his inheritance. But look closely. The father is the real prodigal! The daddy gave lavishly… some would say, foolishly. Do you see the point? … the application?


“God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, NKJV). That’s prodigal!


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