The Return of the Prodigal
By Rev. Huang Meiying
Bible Verse Reading: Luke 15: 11-24
These verses record the parable of the prodigal. In the story here, the father is compared to the Heavenly Father, the elder son to the Jew and the young son to the tax collector and the sinner. The young son lived in sin, but he became the loved son due to his confession of sin as well as his repentance.
In the verses of 11 and 12, the young son lived in the happy home, but he felt restrained and said to his father, "Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me." According to Jewish rule, the property was not to be divided when the father was alive. But the young son ignored it. We should know that in front of God we do not have any property that belongs to us, because all that we have is from God.
"Father divided his property between them." Father did not force his view of the son. Instead, he approved of his son's request. God also gives human beings free will. HE put Adam in Eden and told him not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But Adam disobeyed God and was driven out of Eden. God will put it at their disposal if human beings do not choose to follow HIM.
13 verse: The young son squandered his property given to him by his father "in dissolute living", just like human beings wasting and using up God's grace and indulging in the pleasure of sin that leads them to death.
14-16 verses: When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, the prodigal did not even have the pods of the pigs for food. That is to say the fruit of sin is seemingly sweet but actually bitter. All that seek pleasure in sin will come to no good end and we know that "the wages of sin is death". (Romans 6:23) Without even the pig food, the prodigal was dying of hunger.
17 verse: "He came to himself". Having experienced pains, the prodigal thought of his father's cozy home. It is so wonderful to "come to oneself". Peter denied the Lord three times. When the rooster crowed the third time, he came to himself and cried painfully. He confessed his sin and repented. Later he became a loyal disciple of the Lord. He preached Gospel and founded the Church. King David took Uriah's wife and had Uriah killed. When the prophet Nathan condemned him, David came to himself and cried painfully, repenting. He resumed his close relationship with God. However, there are some who never repent. Take Judas for example. Although Jesus hinted that Judas ought not betray God, he did not come to himself. Finally he ended up in death. Saul did not come to himself though he was condemned and warned by Samuel. As a result, he lost both his throne and his life. God forgives and saves those who come to themselves and repent, and blesses them.
18 verse: "I will get up and go to my father." This was what the prodigal would do to show his repentance to his father. It is not enough to just come to oneself from sin, we need to take actions for our repentance.
The prodigal said to his father, "I have sinned against heaven and before you." "Heaven" symbolizes God. It turns out that human beings commit sin because they sin against God. Those who believe in Jesus should confessed their sin and repent in front of God. Having sinned, David could not stop the charge of his conscience though he managed to cover it from human beings. He said, "While I kept silence, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long." He did not have peace until he confessed his sin in front of God. Thus Proverbs 28: 13 says, "No one who conceals transgressions will prosper, but one who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy." When we confess our sins, our Heavenly Father will forgive us our sins. (1 John 1: 9)
19 verse: The prodigal knew that he was no longer worthy to be called his father's son after he had realized how degenerate he was. Luke 18: 9-14 records the prayers of a Pharisee and a tax collector. The Pharisee trusted in himself and his prayer was not pleased; the tax collector knew that he was a sinner and was blessed by God because of his humbleness and repentance. We should be humble in front of God and fear God. We should pursue the road of the Lord.
20 verse: When he saw the son in distance, Father "was filled with compassion" and "ran' and put his arms around his son. He did not detest his son's raggedness and dirtiness.
21-24 verses: When the prodigal confessed his sin, before he finished, Father told the servant to "bring out the best robe and put it on him". "Robe" symbolizes glory. We were all sinners, but God prepared the righteous robe of Jesus Christ so that we are called righteous and our sins are forgiven because of our faith.
"Put a ring on his finger." A ring is put on the finger for an engagement or marriage , which is a proof for love. God's love is unchangeable. "The ring" also shows the identity of the son, with power and glory.
"And get the fatted calf and kill it." The son came back and Father was very happy and had a feast. He said, "This son of mine was dead and is alive again." They cheered up.
How lonely, poor, painful, miserable and pitiful the prodigal was when he left his father. He did not have the peace and joy until he got home. Likewise, when sinners confess sins and repent, they become God's children and enjoy the joy in God.