Luke 15:11-24 NKJV
11 Then He said: “A certain man had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood. 13 And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. 14 But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. 15 Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.
17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, 19 and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.” ’
20 “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. 23 And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; 24 for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.
On this Sunday Jesus tells us the parables of the lost sheep and lost coin. Today’s reading focuses on the parable that follows the lost coin: the parable of the lost son. This son despises his father and asks for his inheritance even though his father is still alive. After receiving it, he goes to a foreign country where he squanders his entire inheritance on prodigal living. He lived extravagantly, devouring his father’s livelihood with sinful living. When his fortune dries up, so does the weather, bringing famine. He hires himself out as a swineherd. His friends abandoned him, having loved him for his money, just as he had loved his father only for his money.
The lost son is a picture of sinful humanity. Our sinful nature is self-centered and self-indulgent. It mistakes its desires for needs that must be met and it doesn’t care who it harms to meet those needs. Like the prodigal son we are lost. We are by nature “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1).
But the prodigal son’s father is a picture of God the Father. He has compassion upon sinners who acknowledge their sin and are truly sorry for it. He forgives the penitent but He will not make them hired servants in his house. He makes them sons, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26). He clothes us with the best robe, Christ’s righteousness. He puts a signet ring on our finger, marking us as members of the household. He prepares a feast to celebrate, for there is “more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7). What the father says of his son, God the Father says of you who repent and believe: “This my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”
Let us pray: Father in heaven, thank for your infinite compassion by which you make us sons of your kingdom. Grant us your Holy Spirit so that we may live as your sons who were lost but are now found by faith in Christ. Amen.