And He said,
“A certain man had two sons: and the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me.’ And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.
And when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.’ And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.’
But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: and bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to be merry.
Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing. And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. And he said unto him, ‘Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.’ And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him. And he answering said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: but as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.’ And he said unto him, ‘Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.’ “ Luke 15:11-32
There are three main characters in this story:
The first is the Father; the second is the younger son; and the third is the elder son.
The younger son asks for his inheritance early, receives it, then finds himself starving, and basically living with swine. He realizes his situation, is reminded of his father’s home, and that he is a blessed man. He decides to return to his father if only as a servant, and seeks forgiveness.
The father is anxiously awaiting his younger sons return. Maybe he was out in the field working, and looks up the road in the direction he believes his son will be returning, he sees and image coming, getting closer, and closer, then he can make out the features of the face of the man coming toward him. The father drops his tools and all that he is doing and runs; that is right, he runs; because he has recognized that person as being his younger son. He runs until he reaches him, and gives him a hug, and a kiss, and another hug and kiss, and he takes him to his house and clothes him in raiment fit for a king. He then calls for a feast, having the fatted calf killed for that feast, and the celebration begins.
The elder son comes in from the field where he has been working hard all day, and he hears a racket of rejoicing and celebration, dancing, singing, joyous rejoicing. He becomes angry with envy. He complains to the father, “This rebellious son has taken all his inheritance and spent it up on foolish and debaucherous living. I, on the other hand have been faithful to stay, and work and wait until the inheritance is mine.” The elder son is not rejoicing. He is rejecting his brothers return.
We need to keep in mind that this story as well as the “Lost Sheep”, and “Lost Coin” stories are addressed to the Pharisees as they had just accused Jesus of eating with publicans and sinners.
Now in this story we see an elder son who believes he has been good to maintain his inheritance, but he is angry with the father for receiving the wayward son – this is the Pharisees.
The younger son represents the child of God that has gone astray, going his own way, rejecting the word and will of the Father finding himself bankrupt, full of sin, unclean, hungry and cold; comes to himself realizing he has sinned against God repenting returns to the father if only to be a servant.
The father is a picture of our Heavenly Father who with great love awaits all who have departed from His word, will and way. When He sees the repentant returning child returning, He runs to Him and clothes him with the best, puts a ring on his fingers, and has a glorious celebration.
Do you find yourself outside the will of God? Have you reached a point of despair, pain, hunger, loneliness? Are you ready to come back home to the Father? He is waiting, watching, and when He sees you coming, He will run to greet you.