Luke 15: 11-24
This parable is about the prodigal son. He wasted his substance with riotous living. He took everything his father (God) had given him, his inheritance and used it for his own pleasure. He said give me my inheritance. He did not ask his father humbly, but demanded his inheritance. His attitude was wrong. God gives us all things; talents, gifts and abilities. These were given to us to be used for God's purpose and for his glory, but sometimes we take these abilities and use them for our own purposes.
After the son received his inheritance, he left. He left his father's house, where protection and safety were and took his inheritance with him. He thought he could handle things himself without the help of his father. He was saying "I am rich and increased with goods and I have need of nothing" Revelation 3:17. He went into a far country. This shows the distance he traveled from his father (God). When we leave God we leave his protection and put ourselves in the path of Satan. We go into a far country because our sins separate us from God. This is not something the father wants but he allows us to leave because he will not force us to stay against our will. This son wasted his substance on riotous living. He did not want what his father had to give, which was protection, safety and provision.
Riotous: wild, debauchery, extreme indulgence in satisfying the senses. Such as drugs, alcoholism, prostitutes, wild partying. He went from one relationship to another.
This son left his father and all that the father had to give him and indulged himself; he gave himself over to his own pleasures. He allowed Satan to come in, "The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" St John 10:10. Satan wants to take everything God has for us and destroy it. He wants our time, our gifts and talents; he wants us to lose faith in God, but most of all he wants our soul. He wants us to lose the precious gift of the Holy Ghost.
When a natural thief comes into your house he comes silently, usually when you are not at home, or in our case when we are unaware. This is why the scripture says we are to watch and pray. We cannot sleep; we must always be on our guards. "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour," I Peter 5:8.
This is how the son lost his inheritance and if we are not careful and watchful we will lose our inheritance. He was unaware he was being lied to. He thought he was controlling his own life, but in reality he was being led by the flesh. We are led by flesh or spirit Romans 6:16, "Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
What was the result of this sinful living? He lost everything and he worked with swine. He became so hungry that if it had been possible he would have eaten the husks that the swine ate, and for a Jewish person to feed swine was the most degrading, the most humiliating and worst thing imaginable. This show the depth of misery to which he had sunk. This shows the depths to which sinners and even we ourselves can sink if we leave the Father, "When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first Matthew 12:43-45.
This is the depths to which the son had sunk, and then one day he came to himself. He became aware of his situation. He realized that if he stayed in his condition he would die. This is the only way for us to receive help. We must first recognize the condition we are in, we must admit it. He then said, I will arise, go to my Father and repent. He was willing to become a servant in his father's house because he recognized he was unworthy to be called "son."
There are three steps a person must take to change their situation:
1. Recognition of condition
2. Making a decision
3. Acting on that decision
In Mark 7:24-27 the Syrophoenician woman realized she would not get the inheritance but she humbled herself and asked for the crumbs that fell from the masters table. This is what the son was going to do (ask for the crumbs). His sin led to degradation. What is unthinkable one day, is tolerable the next. It does not happen right away, but it is a gradual process. The scripture says it is the little foxes that destroy the vine. In vs. 20 the son arose. He had fallen into sin and degradation but he did not stay where he was. He did something; he acted, just like we must act. We cannot stay in our condition, we have to act. Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light".
Labor means to work hard. Many of us are working hard trying to do things our way, trying to fix our situations. In the midst of our trying to fix our situations we become
Heavy-ladened: to carry a load or burden. When we become heavy-ladened we are carrying loads such as: worry, stress, anxiety, unforgiveness, hate, fear, loneliness, unhappiness, fear of the unknown and our circumstances.
A yoke is: something that controls us. God's yoke is the Spirit and word and when we take this upon us we allow it to control and lead and guide us.
Why was the son heavy-ladened? Because he had yielded to the flesh. He gave in to temptation and this temptation led him to sin. Jesus said to cast all our cares upon him and learn of him and he would give us rest. "Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you." I Peter 5:7. He careth, the (th) on the end means a continual thing. So the scripture is saying "he cares" for us this is not past tense, but present. When God gives us rest, he frees us from anxiety or disturbance. God said "I will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee because he trusted in me" Isaiah 26:3.
Hebrews 12:1&2 says: "let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith" We have to lay it aside. Jesus has done his part, when he died on the cross he completed his work."
Beset means to: thwart (a racer) in every direction, ensnare and entangle.
In vs. 21 the son repents. He confesses his sins and is genuinely sorry. He turns from his way of doing things. His way was not working.
To repent is to: turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one's life, to feel regret or contrition, to change one's life.
Godly sorrow leads to repentance. II Corinthians 7:10, "For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death."
Repentance is demanded by God as a condition of forgiveness.
David repented in II Samuel 24:10 after Joab had numbered the people. He realized he had done wrong. "And David's heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David said unto the LORD, I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech thee, O LORD, take away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly. The children of Israel repented when God sent serpents into the camp after they complained and spoke against him and Moses,Numbers 21:7, "Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people." Joseph's brothers repented when they thought he would turn against them after the death of Israel because they had sold him into slavery, "So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him" Genesis 50:17.
Acts 2:38, Repent and be baptized everyone of you
Acts 3:19, Repent ye therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out
Acts 17:30, At the times of this ignorance God winked at but he now commanded all men everywhere to repent.
In the parable as the son is returning home his father sees him a long ways off. This means his father had been looking for him. His father loved him and wanted him to come back home. This is what our Father (God) does, he is constantly looking and waiting for us to come back home. He is saying,"I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." Revelation 3:18-20
How did the father respond to his son coming home?
1. He said, bring him here
2. He said, put on him the best robe
3. Put shoes on his feet
4. Put a ring on his finger
5. Give him food to eat
When the son repented, the father responded and called him son. He treated him as though he had never left. He clothed and fed him and gave him the best. This shows the goodness and mercy of the father. He threw a party. Scripture says, the angels in heaven rejoice over one sinner that repents. Luke 15:10. God promises to do this for us. He said "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Matthew 6:33. When the father said you are still my son, the son didn't say, "no, no" make me a servant instead. He accepted the gifts his father gave. God has given us the gift of salvation but the gift will not benefit us if we do not reach out our hands and take it. A gift does us no good if we put it on a shelf and leave it unopened, we must open it and take out what is inside.