After squandering all his wealth on wild living, the younger son finds himself in a dire situation. A famine strikes the land, leaving him hungry and desperate. He decides to return to
The plot centers around the younger son who, impatient and greedy, asks his father for his inheritance. The father agrees, but the son wastes his money, eventually becoming homeless and destitute. In the end, to the son’s great surprise, he is welcomed back into the family by his father and brother.
The parable of the prodigal son is one of the greatest redemption stories ever told—a story filled with mercy and grace. It is a parable of how God views us and how we can choose to repent, turn to God, or reject him. You will learn of a father and two sons in this Bible story. While the older son stayed home and worked hard for his father, the younger son ran away with his inheritance and spent it on foolish things. Finding himself alone, working like a slave for food, and living with pigs, the younger son returns home begging to work for his father. The father welcomes home his son with open arms and great compassion. The oldest son becomes very angry with his brother for coming back home and his father for accepting him home.
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The Parable Of The Lost Son In The Bible
The Prodigal Son parable ends with Luke 15:31–32, saying: “And he [the father] said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive; he was lost and is found. Jesus told the story of a father with two sons to illustrate how humanity relates to God. Known as the parable of the prodigal son, it is actually about two lost sons. The younger son had the audacity to ask for his portion of his inheritance while the father was still alive. The father agrees.
All people can easily relate to each character. Like the youngest son, we’ve all let our arrogance and sinful nature get the better of us. We’ve wasted opportunities and indulged in self-destructive behaviors that left us a broken mess. The desire for redemption and acceptance marks some of the deepest longings in our souls. The father embodies the fulfillment of each of these longings. Also, we can all relate to the oldest son; one way or another, we’ve all felt short-changed for our efforts. This masterful parable strikes the heart of human nature profoundly. May we seek to live in the balance between the two extremes represented by the two sons: having a relationship with God in loving obedience.
What Is The Main Message of The Prodigal Son
The prodigal son was an allegory for people who had given themselves to a corrupt way of life. In the immediate context, the prodigal son represented the tax collectors and sinners Jesus associated with. In modern terms, the prodigal son represents all sinners who squander and reject the blessings offered by God and the opportunities He provides to repent and believe the Gospel.
As with many of Jesus’ teachings, this parable has multiple layers. It’s crucial first to take note of the audience Jesus addressed. It was a mix of societal outcasts and religious elites. On the one hand, Jesus was eating with sinners and tax collectors. The sinners were those in Jewish society who did not adhere to the Mosaic Law. The tax collectors were also considered sinners because they often used their position to rob their own people. In the eyes of the Jews, the fault of the tax collector was twofold: first, when they collected the taxes, they often overcharged the Jews and kept the excess for themselves. Second, they were servants of the Roman Empire, whom the Jews detested.
On the other hand, the Pharisees and Scribes, who were meticulous adherents to the Law, had come onto the scene. They began to scoff at Jesus’ choice of company because these people were counted as unworthy. They are the ones Jesus addressed when He told the three parables recorded in Luke 15. The reaction of the father confronted their understanding of what should happen. He did precisely what the Pharisees and scribes rebuked Jesus for when they said, “This man receives sinners and eats with them” (Luke 15:2).
This parable reveals our heavenly Father’s mercy, grace, and desire for a relationship, but it also shows two sons who were each lost in their own way. The youngest son was lost in sin; the oldest son was lost in self-righteousness. The oldest son represented the Pharisees and Scribes. They viewed the Law as a cold-hearted transaction where God would deem them righteous in exchange for their obedience. There was no genuine love for the Lord. The Pharisees and Scribes understood the workings of the Law, but they failed to grasp its purpose. At its core, the Law was about relationships and love. It revolved around loving God and loving people. That is why Jesus said all the law and the prophets hung on two commandments: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37–40). The main purpose of this parable was to rebuke legalism. It does not matter how well someone obeys the Law. If they do it with a self-righteous attitude, it is a sin. Our love for the Lord should be what motivates our obedience.
What Happens in the Parable of the Prodigal Son
The parable known as the Prodigal Son is one of the most famous parables Jesus told. It is the last of three parables in Luke 15, highlighting how God seeks sinners. An overzealous emphasis has been placed on the prodigal son, which has led to the cultural naming of the parable, but as we will see, Jesus’ intended climax of the parable lies with the second son. First, let’s recount what happened in this parable.
The story’s main characters are introduced in the beginning: a father and his two sons. Jesus then focused on the youngest son, who asked the father for his share of the estate. Without protest, the father divided his estate and gave the youngest son his share. In turn, the youngest son then gathered everything together, which means he liquidated his entire share into money (Luke 15:11–12). Based on the Mosaic Law, the oldest son would be set to inherit two-thirds of the father’s estate, so the youngest would have received one-third (Deuteronomy 21:17). It’s difficult for us to fathom the full impact of the youngest son’s actions because we are far removed from the Jewish culture of those days. It’s worth taking time to understand so we can get the full effect of what Jesus taught. When we read this passage, we may think the youngest son merely asked his parents for some money for his own personal use. No big deal, right? After all, kids these days often ask their parents for money to use for their selfish purposes. Sure, it can be presumptuous, but it’s not the end of the world. There’s actually a lot more to it than you might expect.
During that time, people held family honor in the highest esteem. Every son was expected to honor his father and respectably carry his name. The son was not merely seen as an individual but as an extension of his father and his entire family. In a sense, the family’s honor rested on the son’s shoulders; he had an obligation to continue the family legacy respectably. The father’s inheritance would usually be distributed to his sons after he died. In the parable, when the youngest son asked the father for his share, he essentially told his father, “I wish you were dead.”
Next, the son brought further dishonor when he cashed in his share of the inheritance. In those days, the father had rights to the entire inheritance, which consisted of much more than money. The inheritance was all the land, livestock, and other assets that belonged to the family. A son could be given responsibility for his share of the inheritance; however, the father still received the profits while he was alive. What the youngest son did would be unthinkable in the eyes of the Jews. When he cashed in his share, he destroyed one-third of the father’s profits for his own selfish gain.
Even worse, this was more than a rejection of the father; it was also a rejection of the entire family lineage and its generational care of the inheritance. The son was expected to use his share of the inheritance to build the family’s future. Such dishonor would have enraged Jesus’ audience and been a blatant violation of the third commandment (Exodus 20:12).
After the son received his money, he went to a foreign country and used his money for sinful, self-indulgent living. The money ran out, and famine overtook the foreign country. In a desperate attempt to survive, the son offered his services to one of the citizens who commissioned him to feed his pigs (Luke 15:13–15). This would be another shock for Jesus’ audience. Jews did not eat pork because pigs were declared unclean according to the law (Deuteronomy 14:8). As a result, the average Jew would want nothing to do with pigs. While he fed the pigs, the son desired to eat their food because “no one was giving him anything” (Luke 15:16). At this point, in the eyes of a Jew (especially the Pharisees and Scribes), the son would have become the most defiled human being imaginable. He destroyed his relationship with God, his people, and his family. There was no hope for redemption in the mind of the legalist.
In his desolate state, the son came to his senses and realized his father had enough food for him to survive. The son journeyed back home with the plan of asking his father to be hired as a servant, thinking he no longer had the right to be recognized as a son due to his reckless rebellion. When the father saw the son, he did the unthinkable—he received the son back with ecstatic joy and celebration, and he ran to meet his son while he was still at a distance (Luke 17:17–20).
In that culture, people considered it indignant for older men to run, but the father demonstrated no regard for the cultural norm. The father kissed his son and gave him three items of significance: The best robe, which was only given to honored guests, A ring symbolized authority (Genesis 41:42; Esther 3:10). Sons were given authority by their fathers, and the ring signified that the youngest son had been restored to his place in the family. The father also placed sandals on the son’s feet. This was significant because servants did not wear sandals; only people of honor did. In addition to these items, the father commanded the fattened calf be killed, which was reserved for special occasions.
Jesus then moved to the crux of the parable, which was the oldest son’s reaction to his brother’s return. The father invited the oldest son to join the celebration, but the oldest son refused. He felt cheated because he had lived in obedience to his father but never received any reward like his youngest brother. The father then replied with tender words, which conclude the parable: “Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found” (Luke 15:31–32).
Prodigal Son Returns Meaning
The Parable of the Lost Son is one of the best-known parables in the Bible. It is also known as the Parable of the Prodigal Son, and it appears in Luke 15:11–32. The story is about a father who has two sons. The younger son asks his father for his share of the inheritance, and he goes to a far-off country where he squanders all his wealth on wild living. When a famine strikes the land, he is forced to work as a swineherd. He realizes that even his father’s servants have enough food to eat, and he decides to return home and ask for forgiveness. His father welcomes him back with open arms and throws a feast to celebrate his return.
The parable has several themes, including repentance, forgiveness, and redemption. It teaches us that no matter how far we stray from God, we can always return to Him and be welcomed back with open arms. The father in the story represents God, who is always ready to forgive us when we repent.
The parable also teaches us about the dangers of materialism and hedonism. The younger son’s desire for wealth and pleasure leads him down a path of self-destruction. He realizes too late that true happiness comes from being with his family and serving his father.
The older son in the story represents the Pharisees and scribes who criticized Jesus for eating with sinners. He is angry that his father has welcomed back his younger brother without any punishment. The father explains that they should celebrate because his son was lost and is now found.
In conclusion, the Parable of the Lost Son teaches us about God’s love and forgiveness. It reminds us that no matter how far we stray from God, we can always return to Him and be welcomed back with open arms. It also warns us about the dangers of materialism and hedonism. We should focus on serving God rather than pursuing wealth and pleasure.