The Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-24) Part One: The Younger Son

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A man had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ So he divided his wealth between them. And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living. Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him. But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.  (Luke 15:11-24)

The younger son asks for and receives a portion of his inheritance, and soon runs into problems. The problem, though, is not that he asked for his inheritance, but that soon after getting it he forsakes his father’s household and values for a distant land. Once in that land, he squanders his inheritance and neglects to be alert to the economy. In fact, it is after spending everything that a famine occurs in the land, but he had not had insight into the economic season and had acted irresponsibly with his possessions.

When the famine hits, the younger son comes into bondage to the land. Whereas before he may have been just a visitor spending money and enjoying life, he is now forced to work for the citizens of that country. Even worse, he has to tend to pigs, which by his (Jewish) tradition was unclean work. He felt that he had no choice but to be bound in service in this land and at this job–hungry and unfed. But there is always a choice.

He realizes that he can still return to his father’s house–as a slave. He goes home and apologizes to his father. But instead of taking him in as a slave, the father rejoices over his son and redresses him as a member of his household. The younger son is now honored in the position it seems his father wanted him in all along.

God is our Father and wants us to take an active part in His Kingdom. He wants to bless us with our inheritance (spiritually, physically, even materially), and sometimes He does. Other times He protects us by not giving us the things we want when He knows it would only be a stumbling block to the greater gifts of faith. When God does choose to bless us in physical and in material ways, it is important that we remain in His Kingdom so that we do not squander our wealth or faith. Only in the Kingdom do we have wisdom through the Holy Spirit from God as to how to best live now despite the unknowns of the future. It becomes very difficult and painful to leave the “distant lands” outside of God’s Kingdom once we engage in pleasure from them. And of course, there is deep benefit in learning to be the sons and daughters that God is inviting us to be. God loves us with a deep love, as a father, and wants us to partner with Him–not as mere slaves (regardless of our past sins)–rather, He wants to clothe us in royal garments and delights in letting us rule with Him, with full access to the resources of His Kingdom, our home!

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