Hope for the Prodigal
Bible Reading: Luke 15:11-32
“The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). But the religious leaders of Jesus’ day didn’t understand that glorious truth about Him. In their prideful ignorance, they disdainfully grumbled, “This man receives sinners and eats with them” (Luke 15:2). They’d never have done what Jesus was doing. Such sinners were beneath them in their supposed religious superiority. They erroneously assumed there to be no hope for such folks. Jesus responded to their indictment with a series of parables. Would not a man owning one hundred sheep go after the one who was lost (Luke 15:3-7)? And would not a woman, having ten silver coins, seek diligently for one that was lost until she found it (Luke 15:8-10)? In both cases there’d be much joy when what was lost was then later found. And just like that, all of heaven rejoices in the salvation of a sinner (Luke 15:7,10)! But the pièce de résistance in Jesus’ argument is the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32).
According to Webster’s Dictionary a prodigal is one “who spends lavishly or foolishly.” That’s what the prodigal did when “he squandered his property in reckless living” (Luke 15:13, 30). We do the text and ourselves an injustice if we view the prodigal as an exception to the rule. In Adam, we are all prodigals by nature (Romans 5:12). It is in the heart of man to expend his life in vain and foolish pursuits. It is in the nature of sin to pursue such things and the world, the flesh, and the devil unanimously concur with that approach to life (Ephesians 2:1-3).
The prodigal son asked his father for his share of the property and then headed off on a journey into a far country. Having both the money and freedom to do as he pleased, he foolishly expended all his resources in sinful pursuits. A severe famine in the land left him hungry, so he got a job feeding pigs. He became so destitute that he was longing to feed himself with pig food. Sin led the prodigal into a state of utter hopelessness–guilty, vile, desperate, destitute, and embarrassed. And if his story ended there it’d be a tragic ending indeed. But a glimmer of light was brought into his darkness when “he came to his senses” (Luke 15:17). That is the pivotal point in the passage.
Having come to his senses, the Prodigal decided to go back to his father so that he might get on as one of his father’s hired men (Luke 15:17-19). Having embarrassed his father—to be made a servant was the best that he could hope for. But as he returned and “while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him” (Luke 15:20)!!! The father then put a robe around him, a ring on his hand, and sandals on his feet. He even killed the fattened calf and held a banquet for his son accompanied by music and dancing (Luke 15:23, 25)! Not only was the prodigal forgiven, he was reconciled and restored in amazing fashion. The prodigal had hoped, at best, that his father might give him a menial job, instead the father mercifully accepted him, and then proceeded to lavish upon him unanticipated grace! Being of the same spirit as the religious leaders, the elder brother was angry about his father’s response to his prodigal brother. So the father explained, “It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found” (Luke 15:32)!
Such is the nature of God! The penitent sinner cries out to God for mercy and seeks pardon for his sin. The grace of God works in “far more abundant” fashion to bestow unanticipated blessings (Ephesians 3:20). The new believer in Christ is not just forgiven, God’s love and grace are lavished upon him (Romans 5:5; Ephesians 1:8, 3:8). All of this is to the “praise of the glory of His grace (Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14) which is made manifest in the salvation of a prodigal. It is a joyful occasion when a penitent sinner comes to “his senses.” He finds in the Savior one who was already looking for him. There’s hope for the prodigal, no matter how destitute they’ve become or how desperate their situation, because God is who He is! There’s hope for you and me. And there’s hope for all those the world deems hopeless!
There’s Hope for Every Prodigal Because of Who God Is
Heavenly Father. Sin worked to lead us to despair. Spiritually bankrupt, we had lost all hope. But then the Spirit graciously intervened and we came to our senses. We remember the day when we ran back to You, wondering how You could ever forgive us. But in Your love we were shown mercy, and by Your lavish grace we’ve been blessed beyond measure. Forgive us for our forgetfulness, and grant that our hearts might ever more rejoice with heaven in all You’ve done! Open our eyes anew to the truth that Jesus’ came to save prodigals like us. No one is without hope because it’s You who saves!