Jesus' Parables: The Prodigal
The Prodigal Son by Dutch artist Rembrandt.
What is a Parable?
A placing of one thing by the side of another,
An earthly story and metaphor with a heavenly meaning
Why does Jesus tell Parables?
As human beings, we people of stories. This is why we love Netflix shows and good books. We are people who are a part of God's grand story of Creation and of the life that is to come.
Jesus uses stories in order to help people to better understand a specific meaning of a bigger picture.
The Prodigal Son
Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
“Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’
“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”
What do you think about the Son who cashed out on his inheritance early?
What about the second Son? Do you think he is justified in feeling the way that he does?
What do you think that Jesus is saying with this parable?
Feeding the Pigs
The lowest of the low job
From being a prince of an estate, to longing to eat the pods of the pigs.
From living below the lives of his Father’s servants.
“I am no longer worthy to be called your Son.”
When we do wrong we feel guilty and shameful
We are no longer worthy to be called children of God
We do not deserve forgiveness
This prevents us from living in acceptance of God’s grace, and instead, stuck in a cycle of guilt and shame for what we’ve done.
How do feelings of guilt, shame, or unworthiness prevent us from coming to God in faith?
“... His Father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him,” (v. 21).
We assume that if we do come to God, that He is waiting in the clouds with a lightning bolt to punish us.
Jesus tells us this parable to show us that God is awaiting compassionately, with love, to celebrate and welcome you to a relationship with Him.
“For this my child was dead, and is alive again; was lost and is found,” (v. 24)
We feel lost
We feel ‘dead’ to ourselves. Not living fully, not feeling ourselves, not feeling fulfilled.
But, if we turn to God. If we come in confident faith, we recognize that God is waiting with open arms like a loving Father to welcome us in.
The Younger Son: Us
We wander from God
We live in ways to fulfill our immediate desires
The Father: God
The major figure of the parable, the forgiving father, represents God the Father and his compassionate response. God is ready with open arms to welcome the sinner who comes back to him.
Our Longing for Love
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ - Matthew 22:37-39
We all have a deep desire to be loved and known.
We all want to be accepted for who we are.
Like the Prodigal Son - Most of us, we do not feel like we deserve to be loved because of what we have done.
Love is the ultimate command of Christ to his followers.
Our Longing for Acceptance
We have a deep desire to be known and to belong to something more than ourselves.
We want to be ourselves, our true selves. And be wholeheartedly accepted for who we are, without needing to put on a mask or be something that we are not.
Like the older Brother we all long to be accepted by God.
Our Longing for Home
"Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food," - Genesis 2:8-10
When we head away to University, by the time Thanksgiving or Christmas comes along, we have a desire to be Home in a place where we feel comfortable, where we eat well, where we feel loved unconditionally.
We crave the feeling of comfortability in being home. This longing for Earthly homes, is a glimpse of our desire
When Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden, all of mankind was banished from our true home. The true world that we were created to live in - one without pain, strife, sadness, sickness, or war.
A perfect garden, in which we walked with God, spoke with Him, and lived in perfect Harmony with Him. But, due to sin, this Garden has been lost.
Yet, it is not lost. The keys to this garden were given back to us. As God sent His one and only Son to die for us, our sins have been eternally forgiven. We are called back into a perfect, loving, intimate relationship with the God of Glory.
We have been given a chance to walk back in harmony with God, to come Home. There will be a day, where all of our longings for Home will be fulfilled.