The Prodigal | The Parables of Jesus

The Prodigal | The Parables of Jesus

Few parables are as rich and impactful as our Lord’s masterful story of the Prodigal Son found in Luke 15. This narrative masterpiece encapsulates the entirety of the Gospel in vivid storytelling form.

The preacher astutely divides the parable into three poignant phases that unveil the depths of human sin and rebellion, combined with the incomprehensible forgiveness, love and restoration offered by the heavenly Father.

Phase 1 – “Give Me” (vv. 11-13): We witness the brazen rejection of the younger son, who arrogantly demands his inheritance prematurely, essentially wishing his father dead. This depicts the height of man’s selfish depravity, squandering God’s blessings to indulge fleshly lusts in unrestrained “riotous living.” The famine that ensues foreshadows the emptiness and want that inevitably results from pursuing sin.

Phase 2 – “O Me” (vv. 14-19): Having hit rock-bottom destitution, feeding pigs and longing for their carob pods, the young man “comes to himself.” This beautifully depicts the Holy Spirit’s conviction that precedes repentance. He resolves to return home and beg to be made a hired servant, having no grounds to be received as a son. This pictures the humility and contriteness required to approach a holy God for mercy.

Phase 3 – “Make Me” (vv. 20-32): In one of Scripture’s most tender scenes, the father (representing God) sees his son “while he was still a great way off,” runs to him, and smothers him with kisses of unconditional love and acceptance. This father’s compassion perfectly reflects the heart of our heavenly Father, who continually pursues His wayward children.

Instead of the servant status the son requests, the father lavishly bestows the robe of righteousness, the signet ring of authority, sandals of dignity, and a celebratory feast honoring the son’s restoration from death to life. This glorious depiction of saving grace reveals that God’s love is not contingent on our performances, but solely on His goodness and mercy.

The elder brother’s resentment exposes the self-righteous spirit that blindly rejects grace. Yet the parable climaxes with the father’s entreaty to join the celebratory feast, underscoring God’s desire that none be left outside the blessing of His Son.

This rich narrative parabolically dismantles works-based religion, exalting the unmerited favor of being clothed in Christ’s righteousness through repentant faith alone. We are all spiritually bankrupt prodigals deserving nothing, yet granted unspeakable riches through the Father’s extravagant love.

As shepherds, we must continually echo this summons to come home through the Gospel, beckoning wandering prodigals to experience the lavish and unrestrained affection of the Father for all who return in repentance and submission to His mercy in Christ. The Prodigal Son parable is the apex of God’s redemptive story.

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