Parable of the Lost Son

How a Father Loves His Son

Jesus was telling parables to those following Him one day about how much God, His Father, loves even one sinner when he repents.  Here is the “Parable of the Lost Son” in Jesus’ own words.

The Prodigal Son“A man had two sons.  The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’  So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.

“A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living.  About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve.  He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs.  The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him.  But no one gave him anything.

“When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger!  I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.  Please take me on as a hired servant.”’

“So he returned home to his father.  And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming.  Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.  His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’

“But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick!  Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him.  Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet.  And kill the calf we have been fattening.  We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life.  He was lost, but now he is found.’  So the party began” (Luke 15:11-24, NLT).*

“In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God” (Luke 15:7).

How God Loves Us

Has there ever been a time in your life when you disobeyed your parents, rebelled against authority at school or in town, or stole something you really wanted but could not afford?  It could have been something big, like taking your friend’s motorcycle, or something small, like telling a lie to get out of work.  Whatever it was, however, you knew in your heart it was wrong.  This is sin.

Do you ever wonder what God thinks about how you act?  In Romans 3:10-12 He says,

No one is righteous—
not even one.
No one is truly wise;
no one is seeking God.
All have turned away;
all have become useless.
No one does good,
not a single one.

The Bible teaches, “that the day is coming when God, through Christ Jesus, will judge everyone’s secret life” (Romans 2:16).  Just like with our parents and in our towns, there are consequences to pay when we do wrong.  One difference, though—God is all-knowing!  He is aware of everything we do, and even what we think!  We will be judged, not only for what is seen by others, but for what is not seen, as well.

When will this judgment take place?  It says in Hebrews 9:27-28, “And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment, so also Christ died once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people.”  If it were not for the death of Jesus Christ on the cross and His miraculous resurrection from the grave, our sins could never be forgiven!  “For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22).  The Scripture says in John 3:16, “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”  What an incredible gift God, our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ have given to us!

Who is Jesus Christ, that His death should mean so much?  In John 1:1-4, 10-14, 18 the Scripture teaches us:

In the beginning the Word already existed.
The Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He existed in the beginning with God.
God created everything through him,
and nothing was created except through him.
The Word gave life to everything that was created,
and his life brought light to everyone.
. . .
He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him.  He came to his own people, and even they rejected him.  But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.
They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.

So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.
. . .
No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.

There is no other figure in human history or other religions like Jesus Christ.  He is God and was born into this world to bring salvation to the very people He created.  He loved us so much, that He was willing to die one of the cruelest deaths ever invented—a death on a cross.  The penalty for sin is death, and only God was “big enough” to bear the tremendous weight of sin and guilt for the whole world, for all time.  Then God died!  After three days He rose from the grave, breaking the penalty of sin and death forever!  His family and friends were astounded to see Him again, alive after He was dead.  Now they understood what He had been trying to tell them and what His mission was in coming into the world.  Jesus Christ and God, the Father, want us to live with them in perfect fellowship and glorious oneness, and in indescribable joy for all eternity!

Have you ever thought about eternity—about how long it is?  What would eternal punishment be like—paying the consequences of your own sins forever in Hell?  Consider your eternal destiny very carefully.  Are you feeling weighed down by the burden of trying to live your life without peace, fearing when death might come to you?  Does your heart cry out for freedom from guilt and sin?  Do you want to have all your sins forgiven by God the Savior, Jesus Christ, and live in Heaven forever with Him?  If your honest answer is “Yes!” then hear the words of Jesus Christ, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near” (Matthew 4:17).  “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

Remember Jesus’ parable—how the prodigal son returned home and cried out to his father for forgiveness?  Likewise, we need to respond to this great love of God, our Father, by recognizing our own sinfulness and need for the Savior, and call out to Him, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”  Daniel 9:9 says, “The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him.”

Joyfully, the prodigal son’s father did far more than forgive him.  He also restored their relationship and the son’s standing in the household!  This is the same joy our heavenly Father experiences when we repent and come to Jesus Christ for salvation!  And like the prodigal’s father, God showers the new Christian with blessings from above.  Our eternal life begins the moment we accept Christ, and the great joy of knowing the Father and His Son continue into eternity!  “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ” (Ephesians 1:3).  What great love God, the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ have for us!


Copyright © 2012 by C. A. Harris, M.A. Theological Studies.

All Scripture quotations are from the New Living Translation (NLT).
*Holy Bible.  New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation.  Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188.  All rights reserved.

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