The Father’s Love
“The Prodigal Son” is a parable that demonstrates the Father’s abiding love. The father in the story saw his son from afar, ran to him and embraced him. Our heavenly Father sees us from afar, from His celestial heavens, and reaches out to us when we seek forgiveness for our transgressions. The angels in heaven rejoice over one sinner who repents and comes to the Lord. “I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.” (Luke 15:7) The selfishness of this son was totally forgotten when the father caught sight of him returning.
The prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) is the younger of two brothers; he could not wait for his father’s death to inherit what he felt was due to him. He asked for his share of the inheritance which the father did not hesitate to give him. He then went away to a distant country, which signifies how sinners leave the closeness and warmth of their parent’s love and live a life that holds all the attractions of licentiousness and debauchery and waste. Some time later a famine came upon the land where he dwelt, leaving him destitute and, with no more of the inheritance, he was forced to hire himself out to strangers and work among pigs. A most distasteful job for a Jew. And now with no friends to offer him assistance, as many friends show no interest in a relationship that does not benefit them finacially or otherwise, he found himself having to help himself with the scraps from the pigs.
This life depicts that of the sinner who in his mind sees the beauty of a life of glamour and entertainment without understanding the consequences of his actions. As he sinks further and further into his estrangement from what is good and pure, he loses that sense of what is right and wrong and goes deeper into the mire of depravity. Unless he realizes the state in which he has fallen and has the strength and will power to pull himself out of the mire into which he has sunk, he will sink deeper into the hole he has made for himself. With no help from any source, he remembers the life he left behind and the goodness of his father. He thinks of the hired servants working for his father and how much better off they are and thereupon decides to return to his home. He is prepared to work as one of the servants as he feels he is no longer worthy to be called his son.
In this parable, we see Jesus as the Father (God) who gives His children choice, not forcing His will upon them. Even though He is pained to see an errant son go down a slippery slope, He is willing to wait until there is a change of heart in the wayward son.
The older son, on the other hand, behaves more like the Pharisees. He sees himself as the one who is dutiful and obedient to his father and yet unappreciated. He is angry at the way his father receives “this son of yours” with celebration and merriment and he who has served his father so faithfully all this time, has received no token of appreciation. The father patiently points out to him that he has not lost anything, that all that he has is his. He shows his angry son that his brother was lost and is now found, was dead and now lives.
God in His mercy and forbearance is willing to redeem the weak and the wicked if they repent of their sins. Peter was forgiven for his disgraceful denial that he knew Christ (Luke 22:56-62), Manasseh, king in the Old Testament for his iniquitous and idolatrous reign (2 Chronicles 33:12-13), and Zacchaeus for cheating tax-payers (Luke 19:1-10). The self-righteous, on the other hand, tend to be so arrogant that they fail to see their faults.