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A Message From The Pastor
"What is the meaning of the Parable of the Prodigal Son?
This week's parable is probably one of the most familiar stories found
in all the parables in the Bible. More people can relate to this story than any other due largely in part to experiences
we have had with our families. The Parable of the Prodigal Son is found in Luke chapter 15, verses 11-32. The father
in the story is the main character in the parable, and is portrayed as the forgiving father, whose character remains constant
as the story unfolds. The father's actions is a picture of God. In telling the story, Jesus identifies Himself
with God in His loving attitude to the lost. The younger son symbolizes the lost (the tax collectors and sinners of that day, Luke 15:1),
and the elder brother represents the self-righteous (the Pharisees and teachers of the law of that day, Luke 15:2).
The central theme of this parable has to do with restoration of a believer into fellowship with the Father. In the first
two parables, the owner went out to look for what was lost (Luke 15:1-10), however,
in this story the father waits and anticipates his son's return. In this story the graciousness of the father is
demonstrated and overshadows the sinfulness of the son. It is because of the his earthly father's
emulating the Father in heaven's great love and forgiveness that brings the son to repentance. (Romans 2:4).
Verse 12 begins to bring the meaning and purpose this parable. We
observe the younger son ask his father for his share of his estate, which would have been half of what his older brother would
receive (1/3 for the younger, 2/3 for the older (Deuteronomy 21:17).
The son was within his rights to ask, but was not a loving thing to do, because it implied that he wished his
father dead. Instead of rebuking his son, the father patiently grants him his request. This shows the actions of
God and how He gives us free will and will let a sinner go his own way (Deuteronomy 30:19).
We all possess this foolish ambition to be independent, which is at the root of the sinner persisting in his sin (Genesis 3:6; Romans 1:28).
A sinful state is a departure and distance from God (Romans 1:21).
A sinful state is also a state of constant discontent. Luke 12:15 says, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s
life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” This son learned the hard way that covetousness leads to
a life of dissatisfaction and disappointment. He also learned that the most valuable things in life are the things you cannot
buy or replace.
In verse 13 he has traveled to a distant
country, and is evident from his previous actions that he had already decided to go ahead with his plans and make the
journey in his heart. The actual act of leaving was a display of his willful disobedience to all the goodness his father
had offered (Proverbs 27:19; Matthew 6:21; 12:34).
In the interim he squanders all his father had worked so hard for through selfishness, and shallow fulfillment, losing everything.
Not only does he fail financially, but his demise is followed by a natural disaster in the form of a famine.
He was caught off guard and had no plan to deal with this challenge (Genesis 41:33-36).
As if things could not go any lower, he sells himself into physical slavery to a Gentile and begins a job feeding
pigs, a detestable job to the Jewish people (Leviticus 11:7; Deuteronomy 14:8; Isaiah 65:4; 66:17).
Desperate and desolate he finds himself alone and at the end of his rope. The Bible says: “No one gave him
anything” (vs. 16). It appeared that at this point in his venture even the unclean animals were
better off than he was. This is what eventually happens to lost sinners or rebellious Christian's who decide to return
to a life of slavery to sin (2 Peter 2:19-21).
At this point in the story it clearly shows a picture of what sin does in a person’s life when he rejects the Father’s
will (Hebrews 12:1; Acts 8:23).
“Sin always promises more than it gives, takes you further than you wanted to go, and leaves you worse off than you
were before.” The devil lies to all and leads then to Sin, which promises freedom but brings slavery (John 8:34).
Now the son has time to think about all his ways and errors and realizes
that even his father's servants have it better than he. His pain and regret deepen and begins to give him insight to see
his father in a new light and bring him hope (Psalm 147:11; Isaiah 40:30-31; Romans 8:24-25; 1 Timothy 4:10).
The same can be said of the sinner when he/she discovers the destitute condition of his life because of sin. It is a
wake up call when one realizes that a life apart from God brings no hope or real meaning (Ephesians 2:12; 2 Timothy 2:25-26).
This is when a repentant sinner “comes to his senses” and longs to return to the state of fellowship with God
which was lost when Adam sinned (Genesis 3:8).
The son devises a plan of action. Though at a quick glance it may seem that he may not be truly repentant, but rather motivated
by his hunger, a more thorough study of the text gives new insights. He is willing to give up his rights as his father’s
son and take on the position of his servant. We can only speculate on this point, but he may even have been willing to repay
what he had lost (Luke 19:8; Leviticus 6:4-5).
Regardless of the motivation, it demonstrates a true humility and true repentance, not based on what he said but on what he
was willing to do and eventually acted upon (Acts 26:20).
He realizes he had no right to claim a blessing upon return to his father’s household, nor does he have anything to
offer, except a life of service, in repentance of his previous actions. With that, he is prepared to fall at his father’s
feet and hope for forgiveness and mercy. This is exactly what conversion is all about: ending a life of slavery to sin through
confession to the Father and faith in Jesus Christ and becoming a slave to righteousness, offering one’s body as a living
sacrifice (1 John 1:9; Romans 6:6-18; 12:1).
Jesus portrays the father as waiting for his son, perhaps daily searching
the distant road, hoping for his appearance. The father notices him while he was still a long way off. The father’s
compassion assumes some knowledge of the son’s pitiful state, possibly from reports sent home. During that time it was
not the custom of men to run, yet the father runs to greet his son (vs.20). Why would he break convention for this wayward
child who had sinned against him? The obvious answer is because he loved him and was eager to show him that love and restore
the relationship. When the father reaches his son, not only does he throw his arms around him, but he also greets him with
a kiss of love (1 Peter 5:14).
He is so filled with joy at his son’s return that he doesn’t even let him finish his confession. Nor does he question
or lecture him; instead, he unconditionally forgives him and accepts him back into fellowship. The father running to his son,
greeting him with a kiss and ordering the celebration is a picture of how our Heavenly Father feels towards sinners who repent.
God greatly loves us, patiently waits for us to repent so he can show us His great mercy, because he does not want any to
perish nor escape as though by the fire (Ephesians 2:1-10; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 Corinthians 3:15).
This prodigal son was satisfied to return home as a slave, but to his surprise
and delight is restored back into the full privilege of being his father’s son. He had been transformed from a state
of destitution to complete restoration. That is what God's grace does for a penitent sinner (Psalm 40:2; 103:4).
Not only are we forgiven, but we receive a spirit of sonship as His children, heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, of His
incomparable riches (Romans 8:16-17; Ephesians 1:18-19).
The father then orders the servants to bring the best robe, no doubt one of his own (a sign of dignity and honor, proof of
the prodigal’s acceptance back into the family), a ring for the son's hand (a sign of authority and sonship) and
sandals for his feet (a sign of not being a servant, as servants did not wear shoes—or, for that matter, rings or expensive
clothing, vs.22). All these things represent what we receive in Christ upon salvation: the robe of the Redeemer's righteousness
the privilege of partaking of the Spirit of adoption (Ephesians 1:5),
and feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace, prepared to walk in the ways of holiness (Ephesians 6:15).
A fattened calf is prepared, and a party is held (notice that blood was shed = atonement for sin, Hebrews 9:22).
Fatted calves in those times were saved for special occasions such as the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:26-32).
This was not just any party; it was a rare and complete celebration. Had the boy been dealt with according to the Law, there
would have been a funeral, not a celebration. “The Lord does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according
to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as
the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so
the Lord has compassion on those who fear him.” (Psalm 103:10-13).
Instead of condemnation, there is rejoicing for a son who had been dead but now is alive, who once was lost but now is found
(Romans 8:1; John 5:24).
Note the parallel between “dead” and “alive” and “lost” and “found”—terms
that also apply to one’s state before and after conversion to Christ (Ephesians 2:1-5).
This is a picture of what occurs in heaven over one repentant sinner (Luke 15: 7, 10).
Now to the final and tragic character in the Parable of the Prodigal Son,
the oldest son, who, once again, illustrates the Pharisees and the scribes. Outwardly they lived blameless lives, but inwardly
their attitudes were abominable (Matthew 23:25-28).
This was true of the older son who worked hard, obeyed his father, and brought no disgrace to his family or townspeople. It
is obvious by his words and actions, upon his brothers return, that he is not showing love for his father or brother. One
of the duties of the eldest son would have included reconciliation between the father and his son. He would have been the
host at the feast to celebrate his brother’s return. Yet he remains in the field instead of in the house where he should
have been. This act alone would have brought public disgrace upon the father. Still, the father, with great patience, goes
to his angry and hurting son. He does not rebuke him as his actions and disrespectful address of his father warrant (vs.29,
“Look,” he says, instead of addressing him as “father” or “my lord”), nor does his compassion
cease as he listens to his complaints and criticisms. The boy appeals to his father's righteousness by proudly proclaiming
his own self-righteousness in comparison to his brother’s sinfulness (Matthew 7:3-5).
By saying, “This son of yours,” the older brother avoids acknowledging that the prodigal is his own brother (vs.
30). Just like the Pharisees, the older brother was defining sin by outward actions, not inward attitudes (Luke 18:9-14).
In essence, the older brother is saying that he was the one worthy of the celebration, and his father had been ungrateful
for all his work. Now the one who had squandered his wealth was getting what he, the older son, deserved. The father tenderly
addresses his oldest as “my son” (vs. 31) and corrects the error in his thinking by referring to the prodigal
son as “this brother of yours” (vs. 32). The father’s response, “We had to celebrate,” suggests
that the elder brother should have joined in the celebration, as there seems to be a sense of urgency in not postponing the
celebration of the brother’s return.
The older brother’s
focus was on himself, and as a result there is no joy in his brother’s arrival home. He is so consumed with issues of
justice and equity that he fails to see the value of his brother’s repentance and return. He fails to realize that “anyone
who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light,
and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness; he does not know where
he is going, because the darkness has blinded him” (1 John 2:9-11).
The older brother allows anger to take root in his heart to the point that he is unable to show compassion towards his brother,
and, for that matter he is unable to forgive the perceived sin of his father against him (Genesis 4:5-8).
He prefers to nurse his anger rather than enjoy fellowship with his father, brother and the community. He chooses suffering
and isolation over restoration and reconciliation (Matthew 5:24, 6:14-15).
He sees his brother’s return as a threat to his own inheritance. After all, why should he have to share his portion
with a brother who has squandered his? And why hadn’t his father rejoiced in his presence through his faithful years
The wise father seeks to bring restoration by pointing out
that all he has is and has always been available for the asking to his obedient son, as it was his portion of the inheritance
since the time of the allotment. The older son never utilized the blessings at his disposal (Galatians 5:22; 2 Peter 1:5-8).
This is similar to the Pharisees with their religion of good works. They hoped to earn blessings from God and in their obedience
merit eternal life (Romans 9:31-33; 10:3).
They failed to understand the grace of God and failed to comprehend the meaning of forgiveness. It was, therefore, not what
they did that became a stumbling block to their growth but rather what they did not do which alienated them from God (Matthew 23:23-24, Romans 10:4).
They were irate when Jesus was receiving and forgiving “unholy” people, failing to see their own need for a Savior.
We do not know how this story ended for the oldest son, but we do know that the Pharisees continued to oppose Jesus and separate
themselves from His followers. Despite the father’s pleading for them to “come in,” they refused and were
the ones who instigated the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus Christ (Matthew 26:59).
A tragic ending to a story filled with such hope, mercy, joy, and forgiveness.
The picture of the father receiving the son back into relationship is a picture of how we should respond to repentant
sinners as well (1 John 4:20-21; Luke 17:3; Galatians 6:1; James 5:19-20).
“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
We are included in that “all,” and we must remember that “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags”
apart from Christ (Isaiah 64:6; John 15:1-6).
It is only by God’s grace that we are saved, not by works that we may boast of (Ephesians 2:9; Romans 9:16; Psalm 51:5).
That is the core message of the Parable of the Prodigal Son.
|WLM Family: Pastor D, Mrs. DelValle, Eddie n Laura
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4 STEPS TO GOD
1.) God Loves You!
The Bible says, "God so loved the world that He gave
His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life"
The problem is
that . . .
2.) All of us have done, said or thought things that are wrong. This is called sin, and our sins have
separated us from God.
The Bible says “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” God is
perfect and holy, and our sins separate us from God forever. The Bible says “The wages of sin is death.”
The good news is that, about 2,000 years ago,
3.) God sent His only Son Jesus Christ to die for our sins.
Jesus is the Son of God. He lived a sinless life and then died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. “God
demonstrates His own love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.”
Jesus rose from the
dead and now He lives in heaven with God His Father. He offers us the gift of eternal life -- of living forever with Him in
heaven if we accept Him as our Lord and Savior. Jesus said "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the
Father except by Me."
God reaches out in love to you and wants you to be His child. "As many as received
Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe on His name." You can choose to ask
Jesus Christ to forgive your sins and come in to your life as your Lord and Savior.
4.) If you want to accept Christ
as your Savior and turn from your sins, you can ask Him to be your Savior and Lord by praying a prayer like this:
"Lord Jesus, I believe you are the Son of God. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. Please forgive my
sins and give me the gift of eternal life. I ask you in to my life and heart to be my Lord and Savior. I want to serve