Text: Luke 15:11-24
The word “prodigal” means wasteful. Verse 13 confirms, “…the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.” Riotous refers to excess, overindulgence, wicked, or immoral. What led to a decision to leave home for the “far country” is uncertain! However we can safely assume that his inheritance played a major role. Leaving home is not the problem but leaving home for all the wrong reasons including making foolish decisions became the problem in this home. Out of desperation he considers returning home. He has fond memories of his father who was not only a good father but he was a good employer. Notice a few things about this father that encouraged the prodigal to return from where he had left.
1. He was Gracious (17-19)
The wayward son returned to the only place where he was genuinely loved. He did not find help in the far country. He realized, after coming to himself, that his father would help in the time of trouble.
- He was a gracious provider (17)
Verse 17, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! His father’s servants were well fed. They had food enough and to spare. Reminds me of the feeding of the 5,000.
Jn 6:11-13, “And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten.”
The prodigal’s father like our Heavenly Father was a generous provider.
Phil 4:19, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
Missionary Hudson Taylor had complete trust in God’s faithfulness. In his journal he wrote: “Our heavenly Father is a very experienced One. He knows very well that His children wake up with a good appetite every morning… He sustained 3 million Israelites in the wilderness for 40 years. We do not expect He will send 3 million missionaries to China; but if He did, He would have ample means to sustain them all… Depend on it, God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply.”
- He was a gracious listener (18-19)
Note 18a, “I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him…” Regardless of what the prodigal had done or didn’t do he was confident about returning home to talk to his father. It takes grace to listen when our children have problems similar to problems in this story. The prodigal’s father appears to be approachable under any all circumstances. Our children need an understanding father when they are in trouble. Children need a father who will listen not to condemn/criticize but to remedy the problem and calm a troubled heart.
The disciples were troubled over the news of their Saviour’s death and departure. Jesus said to them, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (Jn 14:1-3)
In a day of technology we are fast becoming poor listeners. One of the top 10 reasons for a troubled home is poor communication. Sometimes we are out of touch with reality, with the needs of our children because we are not listening.
2. He was Compassionate (20)
Verse 20, 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.
- Compassion sees the need
Reminds me of Mt 14:14, And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.
Illustration: The disciples were preoccupied and failed to see the need in Samaria. John 4:31-36
- Compassion rushes to the need
Illustration: The Comforter 1Jn 2:1-2; Jn 14:16
- Compassion embraces the need
Illustration: Lu 10:33-35
3. He was Merciful, Kind, and Forgiving
Eph 4:32, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
The gifts in Luke 15 represent what we receive in Christ upon salvation. It represents what you and I don’t deserve. It represents what the prodigal didn’t deserve but his father like our Heavenly Father is very merciful, kind, and forgiving. The gifts in general (robe, ring, sandals) represent what we are in Christ…Accepted in the Beloved (Eph 1:6).
Illustration: God’s mercy (Eph 2:4-10)