Parables of Jesus Lesson 03 – The Father of the Prodigal Son

A pastor traveling in the Middle East spent some time with a family of nomadic herders. The pastor asked the patriarch, who was wearing a long robe, if he ever ran anywhere. The patriarch shook his head. “Why would I run anywhere?” The patriarch asked. “Has my daughter been stung by a scorpion?”

Today we will study the parable of the prodigal son.

Let’s read Luke 15:11-24 together.

Countless sermons have been preached upon the parable of the prodigal son. There are many good lessons we can learn from this parable. Most sermons are regarding the prodigal son’s point of view. However, have you ever considered this parable from the perspective of the father?

At the beginning of the parable, the younger son asked for his portion of the inheritance. This was a very unusual request because traditionally the inheritance is only given to the sons after the father has died (Hebrews 9:16-17).

Essentially the younger son was telling his father, “I can’t wait until you die, so I can live my life the way I want.” The younger son’s request was very shameful and disrespectful towards his father. The father would have every right to refuse such a request and even disinherit his son.

Amazingly, the father complied with his younger son’s request and gave him his share of the inheritance! The father still loved his son greatly.

Some time later (perhaps months or even years later) the son returned home humbled by his experiences in a far country. The son finally realized the life he left behind was far better than the life he thought he wanted. The son remembered how he shamed his father when he left and how he squandered his share of the inheritance. The son knew he had no right to be called his father’s son. Perhaps he could beg for a job as a hired hand and his father would have pity and mercy upon him.

As the son drew closer to home, his father somehow recognized him from far off, even though he was dirty and disheveled.

Amazingly, rather than wait for the son to come groveling to him, the father ran to his son and embraced him! The culture at that time would have considered the father’s action as shameful.

Why did the father run towards his son?

Let’s read Hebrews 2:6-12 and 12:2 together.

Imagine the son of the president of the United States of America renouncing his citizenship to join a foreign country. The son then commits many acts of terrorism against the US, killing thousands of people. The son is captured abroad and flown to the US to stand trial for his war crimes. The president hears the news of his son’s capture and immediately runs out of the White House. The president travels to a military base and meets his son on the tarmac as he is being led out of a plane in shackles. The president embraces his son and unconditionally pardons him. Imagine the political fallout and scandal that would follow such an act. The president would be jeopardizing his presidency and his political legacy for the sake of his son.

As Christians, we almost take for granted that Jesus died on the cross at Calvary for us. Have you ever considered the infinite cost He paid to save you, me, and all of humanity?

Jesus, our Creator, created the universe (Genesis 1:1), spoke the world into existence (John 1:1-3), and made Adam with His own hands (Genesis 2:7). Jesus, who had all heavenly power and authority, gave up His heavenly throne to come to earth and live as a human. Jesus who has the love and adoration of thousands upon thousands of angels, endured beatings, ridicule, and experienced undeserved shame and humiliation at the hands of His own creation (Isaiah 53:3-8). How did the angels feel as they watched the events leading to Jesus’ crucifixion? They may have been tensely waiting for the word from Jesus to save Him (Matthew 26:53) and slay the humans who had the audacity to mistreat God like a common criminal.

Yet Jesus did not call the angels. He had the power to come off the cross at any time, but if He did, all of humanity would have been lost for eternity. Jesus loved us – including the people who were crucifying Him – too much. He endured the pain, the indignities, the shame, and even the second death – all so that we would have a chance at salvation. Heaven would not be the same for Jesus without us.

I imagine the father in the parable waited every night for his son to return home. He looked out into the distance, hoping to see his son from afar returning home. The story of the prodigal son is actually the story of a lost son who was found. Just like the father, God is waiting with open arms for sinners to repent and return to Him.

Let’s read Revelation 3:20-21 together.


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