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Gospel of Luke Chapter 15
Theme: Parable of the lost sheep; parable of the lost coin; parable of two lost sons, which is probably the best-loved parable of Jesus, which we call the parable of the Prodigal Son.
The background for this parable of the Prodigal Son is that the publicans and sinners came in to hear the Lord Jesus by multitudes. The Pharisees and scribes began to murmur, to criticize Him because of this. They were outraged that He would receive sinners and even eat with them.
His answer to the murmuring of the Pharisees and scribes is in the form of a parable. Usually it is called three parables: the parable of the lost sheep, the parable of the lost coin, and the parable of the lost son. But, in reality, it is three parts of ONE parable; it is three pictures of the same thing.
Luke 15:1 Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. (KJV)
Then drew near to him . . . near to Jesus, this was on the Sabbath day, and either when He was in the Pharisee's house, where He was invited to dinner (Lk.14:1), or perhaps when He came out of it, when the multitude, who could not come near Him while inside, took the opportunity of gathering about Him.
Even all the publicans and sinners . . . whom the Pharisee would not admit into his house, for it was contrary to their traditions to eat and drink and speak with persons of such an shameful character. (Mat.9:10-11). The word "all" signifies that there was a very large number of them.
For to hear him . . . hear His doctrine, having heard much about Him.
Luke 15:2 And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. (KJV)
And the Pharisees and Scribes murmured, saying . . . murmured . . . they supposed that if Jesus treated sinners kindly He must be fond of their society, and be a Man of similar character. They considered it disgraceful to be with them or to eat with them, and they therefore brought a charge against Him for it. They would not consider that He admitted them to his society for the purpose of doing them good, nor did they remember that the very purpose of His coming was to call the wicked from their ways and to save them from death. When they saw the easy access these wicked men had to Jesus, and that He stopped and stayed with them, and very freely taught instructions to them, they said,
This man receiveth sinners . . . receives them in a tender manner; treats them with kindness; does not drive them from His Presence.
And eateth with them . . . as He did in the houses of Matthew the publican, and of Zaccheus (Mat.9:10; Lk.14:7), which was contrary to the received sayings of the scribes. By eating with them He showed that He did not despise or overlook them.
Parable of the Lost Sheep (Luke 15:3-7)
Now in this wonderful parable we see the first picture, that of a lost sheep.
Luke 15:3 And he spake this parable unto them, saying, (KJV)
And he spake this parable unto them . . . to the Pharisees, for their opinion and denial; and to the publicans and sinners for their encouragement; and in vindication of Himself; and not only this parable of the lost sheep, but two others, concerning the lost piece of money, and the prodigal son, which were spoken at this time, on the same occasion.
Saying . . . as follows.
Luke 15:4 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? (KJV)
What man of you having an hundred sheep . . . a flock of 100 sheep (Mat.18:12).
If he lose one of them . . . if one strays from the flock,
Doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness . . . where they were feeding,
And go after that which is lost until he find it? . . . by this parable Jesus justifies His conduct in speaking with sinners, and neglecting the Scribes and Pharisees. For if it was right for an owner of an hundred sheep, when he had lost one of them, to leave all the rest, and go in search after that one until he had found it; then it was right in Jesus to do what He did. The Jewish nation seems to be meant "by the hundred sheep", who are often represented as a flock of sheep, (Ps.77:20; 95:7; 100:3; Eze.34:3,30-31). Here they are divided into ninety nine and one. The "one lost sheep" in this parable, may include all the elect of God, but Jesus is speaking here to Jews, so I think the one lost sheep most likely means the chosen of God among the Jews, which were very few, a remnant according to the election of grace: and which was lost among the wicked part of them, the publicans and sinners. In the wilderness I think means in a state of unregeneracy; so called because in those that are in such a state, nothing is sown or planted, all that grows there is natural; there is no seed of grace, no engrafted word, no fruits of righteousness, nothing but thorns and briers, of sins and corruptions. Remnant: (Isa.10:20,22; 46:3; Jer.6:9; 31:7; Mic.3:12; Zep.3:13; Rom.9:27).
Luke 15:5 And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. (KJV)
And when he hath found it . . . in trouble and bad condition, so too, Jesus finds His sheep often in a bad place, in a pit, in the mire and clay of nature; in the paw of the roaring lion, Satan; helpless, hopeless, wretched, miserable and naked (Rev.3:17), not only starving and dying, but dead in trespasses and sins. Finding them means redemption, securings eternal salvation for them; and with respect to calling, He lays hold of them by His Spirit and grace, and brings them to Himself, giving them knowledge of Himself. There are several things which Christ does to His sheep when He has found them, which are not expressed here, but understood: finding them dead in sin, He speaks life into them; He calls them by name, and asserts His property in them (1 Jn.4;4); He takes them out of the pit of nature; He rescues them out of the hands of Satan; He washes them from their filthiness, and heals all their spiritual diseases; He feeds and refreshes them; He covers them with His robe of righteousness (Isa.61:10; 1 Cro.1:30); He beautifies and adorns them, and brings them home in the manner afterwards described:
He layeth it on his shoulders . . . He does not put them on their own legs to go alone; nor does He lead them, and He certainly does NOT drive them before Him. He takes them up in His arms, and lays them on His shoulders, revealing the lack of activity of people in conversion, and their weakness and lack of power to do anything that is spiritually good of themselves. The way that Christ the shepherd carries them, having found them, and laid them on His shoulders, is
Rejoicing . . . not scolding them with going astray; not complaining or groaning under the burden; but rejoicing in a kind of victory, and carrying them as a trophy of victory.
Shepherd: (Ps.23; Isa.40:11; 49:9-10; Eze.34:12-14,23,31; Jn.10:11-16; Heb.12:20; 1 Pet.5:4).
Luke 15:6 And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. (KJV)
And when he cometh home . . . the house, or home, to which Christ comes and brings homes His lost sheep on His shoulders when found, is either the church, which is Christ's house and home, and into which He Himself comes. It is His by gift and purchase, and which He has built, and is where He comes and dwells as a King in it, and as Priest and Prophet there, and as the Master of it. It is here where He brings His people when He has called them by His grace, where they have a good fold and green pastures, and where they delight to be.
This could also mean Heaven, as this home, which is a house of God's building, not made with hands (Heb.9:11), eternal in the heavens; and which is Christ's Father's house, and His own house and home, and also the saints' house and home, where they are all brought by Christ; for they cannot go there alone, and of themselves. They are brought there by the power of divine grace to their own home; and those that Christ takes into His arms, and on His shoulders, He NEVER drops them until He has brought them safe to Heaven.
He calleth together his friends and neighbours . . . the friends of Christ are the saints, so called, because of their share in His friendship to them; shown by His becoming a surety for them; by His assuming their nature, and His dying in their place; by His paying their debts, and redeeming them; by His intervention for them, and preparing a place for them in His Father's house; by supplying all their wants, and by His kindness and love, by His unfolding His secrets, and giving wise advice and counsel to them. Saints are called together to hear what great things Christ has done for poor sinners when He brings them to Zion; and angels are also made acquainted with their conversion; and both saints and angels will be called together, when the sheep of Christ shall be brought home to glory.
Saying unto them, rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost . . . the joy of Christ and His friends is shared on this occasion. Jesus rejoices Himself, and His friends with Him. He rejoiced in His people from everlasting, they were the objects of His Father's love, and of His own love; and He took great delight in them. They were chosen in Him, and given to Him (Jn.10:29), and this joy in them still continued, even with their fall in Adam, and their own actual sins and wrongdoings. They were lost in the fall, and by their own sins, there were some new expressions of joy upon Christ's finding them. Jesus’ friends and neighbours, His saints and His people, also rejoice at the conversion of a sinner, because the glory of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is displayed in that conversion, because Satan has lost his prey, and Christ has gained a soul.
Luke 15:7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. (KJV)
I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be heaven . . . and in the church below and the members of it. Likewise joy, because of recovery of something in danger of being lost, gives intense joy than the quiet possession of many that are safe. Jesus illustrates by the case of the lost sheep and of the piece of silver. This feeling our Lord represents as existing in heaven. Likewise, in like manner, or on the same principle, there is joy in Heaven. Heavenly angels are also represented as rejoicing over those who repent on Earth. They constantly see the guilt and danger of mankind, they know what God has done for them, and they rejoice at the recovery of any from the guilt and ruins of sin.
Over one sinner that repenteth . . . in heaven. Among the angels of God. One sinner, one rebel against God, no matter how great his sins or how small. IF a sinner, he must perish unless he repents; and angels rejoice at his repentance because it brings him back to the love of God, and because it will save him from eternal death in Hell. That repenteth (Mat.9:13).
More, than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance . . . just persons means those who have not sinned. There are NO just men on Earth who need no repentance,
(Ps.14:2-3; Ecc.7:20; Rom.3:10-18). Jesus did not mean to imply that there were any such people. I think He was speaking of what took place in heaven, among angels and of their emotions when they consider the creatures of God; and He says that they rejoiced in the repentance of one sinner more than in the holiness of many who had not fallen. Jesus means that the angels rejoice more over the repentance of one sinner than they do over many who have not fallen. By this Jesus justified His own conduct. The Jews did not deny the existence of angels. They would not deny that their feelings were proper. If the angels rejoiced in this way, it was not wrong for Jesus to show the same joy, and especially to seek their conversion and salvation.
The angels knew how desirable the repentance of a sinner was in the eyes of God. They also knew of how much value the immortal soul was. They know what is meant by eternal death. IF only mankind saw these things as they see it! IF only they would make an effort to save their own souls, and the souls of others from eternal death! Luke 5:32 I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. (KJV)
The parable of the lost sheep is very applicable to the great work of man's redemption. The lost sheep represents the sinner who has departed from God, and exposed to certain ruin if not brought back to Him, yet is not eager to return. Christ is earnest in bringing sinners home.
Parable of the Lost Coin (Luke 15:8-10)
The second picture in this set of three pictures or panels, is that of the lost coin.
Luke 15:8 Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? (KJV)
Either what woman, having ten pieces of silver . . . ten pieces of silver in the original, is ten drachmas. The drachma was about the value of fifteen cents, and consequently the whole sum was about a dollar and a half, or six shillings. The sum was small, but it was all she had. The loss of one piece, therefore, was severely felt.
If she lose one piece . . . means the elect among the Jews, and who chiefly consisted of publicans and sinners; and the regard had to these, is signified by the following expressions,
Doth not light a candle . . . Palestinian women received 10 silver coins as a wedding gift. Besides their economic value, these coins held a sentimental value like that of a wedding ring, and to lose one would be extremely distressing. A woman would light a candle and look for it.
And sweep the house . . . this phrase sometimes means outward reformation (Mat.12:44), and sometimes God's judgments upon a people (Isa.14:23), but here it seems to mean the preaching of the Gospel, and the power that goes along with it, to the effectual calling of the elect. The house in which Christ's lost piece of silver, or his chosen ones were, most likely means the nation of the Jews, who are often called the house of Israel. House of Israel is found in 293 places in the Bible, especially in Jeremiah and Ezekiel.
This was a house of God's building and choosing, and where He dwelt among these people for a long time. It was about this time the Lord was about to break up housekeeping with them; yet as there were some few among them that were to be looked up and called, therefore this house must be swept, as it was by the ministry of John the Baptist, by Christ Jesus Himself, and by His apostles. This clearly tells the state and condition of God's elect, being in this house, before it was swept, and they found out they were in great obscurity and darkness, with much filth and grime on them, and pollution in them.
And seek diligently till she find it? . . . as the woman would rejoice at finding her lost coin, so too do the angels rejoice over one repentant sinner. Each and every individual is precious to God. He grieves over every loss and rejoices whenever one of His children is found and brought into the Kingdom. Maybe we would have more joy in our churches if we shared Jesus' love and concern for the lost, diligently seeking them, and rejoice when they accept the Saviour.
In the parable of the lost piece of silver, that which is lost, is one piece, of small value compared with the rest. Yet the woman seeks diligently till she finds it. This represents the many ways God uses of to bring lost souls home to Himself, and the Saviour's joy on their return to Him. How very careful should we be that our repentance is unto salvation and eternal life!
Luke 15:9 And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. (KJV)
And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends . . . verse 6 is a similar parable. Proverbs 2:4 If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; (KJV)
Luke 15:10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth. (KJV)
Likewise I say unto you . . . as before, in verse 7.
There is joy in the presence of the angels of God . . . who are the friends and neighbors of Christ (verse 6).
Over one sinner that repenteth . . . the angels have knowledge of, either by immediate revelation from God, or by scrutiny in the church where they attend. The reason of this joy is that there is one rescued out of the hands of Satan and his demons, between whom there is an relentless hostility; and because another subject is added to Christ's Kingdom, and by which it is enlarged. Another heir (Rom.8:17; Gal.4:7; Heb.6:17; 11:7; Jam.2:5), is born into that family, to which they belong, and they have another social worshipper with them. This joy is said to be "in the presence of" them; and so may mean the joy of others, as of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, which is in their sight and knowledge; and also the joy there is among the angels themselves.
The coin was probably part of the row of coins which formed a headpiece, signifying her married state, similar to our wedding ring. To lose a part of the headpiece was like losing a stone out of one's wedding ring. The woman could well portray the Holy Spirit whose ministry is to make sure that each one who belongs to the Bridegroom will be present for the wedding. Every coin will be in place. Every piece is valuable to Him.
Parable of the Two Sons (Luke 15:11-32)
The Prodigal Son
Luke is a medical doctor and a scientist. He is the one who records some of the Lord's glorious parables which no other Gospel writer gives us. This is the third picture in this set of three pictures or panels of this wonderful parable.
Luke 15:11 And he said, A certain man had two sons: (KJV)
And he said, A certain man had two sons . . . Jesus, to illustrate still farther the teaching that He had just spoken in the two previous parables, and to show us that it was proper to rejoice over repenting sinners, proceeds to show it by this most beautiful and instructive parable. We see in it, beauty and correctness when we remember that the plan of it was simply to justify his conduct in receiving sinners, and to show us that to rejoice over their return was right. Here He shows by the feelings of a father rejoicing over the return of an ungrateful and self-indulgent son.
Something to consider: A certain man had two sons . . . there are some who say in this parable, the elder son is the Jews, and the younger son the Gentiles. In reality, the elder son suits quite well as the Jew in this, because he boasts so much of his obedience, "I have not transgressed at any time thy commandment", and also, that he is so much against the feast for his brother, now a remorseful penitent. Nothing can be more grievous to the Jews than the welcome of the Gentiles.
Instantly the Lord begins to paint us a picture. We see a beautiful home (because this represents the home of the Father, the heavenly Father, Heaven). It is a glorious home to say the least. It is a home that has all the comforts, all of the joys and all of the love that ever goes into a home. In that home there's the "certain man," and that is God the Father. This Father had two sons. One of these sons is called the elder and the other is called the younger.
Luke 15:12 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. (KJV)
And the younger of them said to his father . . . by the younger son, some understand to be the publicans and sinners, and by the elder, the Pharisees and scribes.
Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me . . . that is properly my share. There is no reason to suppose that he was not of age, and as he chose to leave his father's house, it was proper that his father should, IF he chose, give him the part of the estate which would be his.
And he divided unto them his living . . . his property. The division of property among the Jews gave the elder son twice as much as the younger. In this case it seems the younger son received only money or movable property, and the elder chose to remain with his father and dwell on the estate. The lands and fixed property remained in their possession. It is possible that such a custom may have prevailed among the Jews, and that the Saviour refers to some such demand made by the young man.
Luke 15:13 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. (KJV)
And not many days after the younger son gathered all together . . . all that his father gave him,
and he immediately sets out from his father (God).
As soon as he is born, man goes astray from God, speaking lies (Ps.58:3). As soon as a wicked man has things of this world, what his carnal heart desires, he wants to live independent of God and His providence. He wants to gather together all for himself, so he can spend it on his lusts, far away from his father, the Father of mercies (2 Cor.1:3), of whom he is not mindful, and of whom he wants no part of His worship and service, never once thinking of God’s honor and glory.
And took his journey into a far country . . . this sets forth the state of alienation a sinner is in, while unconverted. He is afar off (Ps.138:6; Lk.16:23) from God the Father; from the Presence of God, from fellowship with Him, from the knowledge of God, from any desire of it, from love to Him, from fear of Him; and from the life of God. He dies NOT want to live godly, righteously and soberly. He wants to live far from Jesus, far from the knowledge of Him, far from faith in Him, he shows no love to Jesus, has no fellowship with Him, and will not submit to His ordinances. He is not convicted by the Holy Spirit’s urging, and everything that is spiritual and good, he shies away from, from the law of God, and from the righteousness of it, and from righteous men.
And there wasted his substance in riotous living . . . this wasteful son might be looked upon as that stubborn and rebellious son mentioned Deut.21:18-21. There are millions in this condition.
Luke 15:14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. (KJV)
And when he had spent all . . . SIN totally strips a person of all that is good and valuable; of the image of God (Gen.9:6), of the knowledge of divine things, of moral righteousness, and of strength to perform moral good; therefore man is in a wretched and miserable condition, he is poor, and blind, and naked (Rev.3:17). If a person has spent all he had, and sin has stripped him of all, there is NO good thing in him except what comes from the grace of God, nor has he anything to take with him to God, or to offer to his Creditor, nor can he prepare himself for eternal life in Heaven, or any good work.
There arose a mighty famine in that land . . . SIN brings mankind into a starving spiritual condition. In all the land, there is a famine of the Word of God. Although the Gospel is preached everywhere, it is only food to spiritual persons. Unregenerate men (unbelievers) have NO hunger for the Gospel, but neglect and despise it; they that are in this far land, are foreigners to the ordinances of God. They are in a pit, where there is no water; their taste is turned far away from everything that is spiritually good; they live on bread of deceit (Pro.20:17), and work for things that does not satisfy, because of this, unregenerate men look like skeletons, and are as the dry bones in Ezekiel's vision (Eze.37:4,11).
And he began to be in want . . . it seems as though a mysterious providence held back the famine until the wasteful son was in the perfect circumstance to feel it at its worst. So, like Jonah, whom the storm did not overtake until he was at the mercy of the waves, so too does the sinner feel as if "the stars in their courses were fighting against" him (Judges 5:20). In want, the first stage of his bitter experience, in preparation for a change.
Luke 15:15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. (KJV)
And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country . . . joined himself, his pride has not yet been humbled, he is unable to accept the shame of a return to his father. Joined himself, NOT to any of the saints, for they are not citizens of the far country, but of the church of God and of Heaven above.
And he sent him into his field to feed swine . . . the citizen did not give him the least bit of bread to satisfy his hunger; nor did he say one word to him about Christ Jesus, the bread of life (Jn.6:33,35;48;51); nor did he advise him to go back to his father's house, where there was bread enough and plenty to spare. Instead he "sent him into his fields" to work, to feed pigs. The son sank into the depths of a filthy, sloppy hog pen. Among the Jews, swine's flesh was absolutely vile! This citizen was not a Jew!
Luke 15:16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. (KJV)
And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks . . . he was so hungry that he ate the only food he could get, the husks, which are the hulls of a plant which in the East is the food of cattle and hogs, and often the food of the poorest people in times of hunger. There was nothing any better (Jer.30:14). He was his lowest depth, he was perishing, unpitied, alone in the world. But this is just the turning-point; the midnight before the dawn of day (Jer.2:19).
That the swine did eat . . . Christ's lambs and sheep do not eat pig food, nor will they, nor can they . . . only egotistic, self-centered persons do, for this is suitable to their nature, they eat it, and live on it; which shows them to be not renewed, not regenerated, and that their taste is not changed.
And no man gave unto him . . . not meaning the husks that he was feeding the hogs, this means bread, or proper food, and no man gave that to him. Let us always remember that none but Jesus can give the true bread, the bread of life, to those that are hungry, and in want.
According to Moses' law, pigs were unclean animals (Lev.11:2-8; Deut.14:8). This meant that pigs could not be eaten or used for sacrifices. To protect themselves from defilement, Jews would not even touch pigs. For a Jew to stoop to feeding pigs was a great disgrace, and for this young man to eat food that the pigs had touched was to be degraded beyond belief. The younger son had really truly sunk to rock bottom. Many are in this condition in today’s world!
Luke 15:17 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! (KJV)
And when he came to himself . . . an unregenerate man, an unbeliever, whether a sensual gratification man, or a self-righteous man, is not himself; he is beside himself; and is a fool. The man that pursues his worldly lusts and pleasures, promises himself liberty, BUT, my friend, he is a slave! He ruins himself, his soul, his body and his estate, and chooses to do it rather than part with his lusts. The self-righteous person trusts in his own heart, and that is great stupidity. The younger son, this immoral, wasteful son, now comes to his senses.
He said, how many hired servants of my father's have bread enough, and to spare . . . all his father’s hired help had no worry whatsoever about starving. They all had plenty to eat. Those who are in the Father’s House have the doctrines, the Promises, and ordinances of the Gospel, the fullness of grace that is in Christ, and Christ Himself the bread of life. This is more than enough for them, and sufficient for the entire family in Heaven, and in Earth; even the lowest and weakest believer may be said to have enough and to spare! This is much better than to be starving, as this man was.
And I perish with hunger . . . in this far country, in the citizen's fields, in the middle of his swine and their husks. ALL mankind are in a lost and perishing condition; for ALL have sinned against God (Rom.3:10,23). They have exposed themselves to the curses of the law (Deut.ch.28 & 29), and are deprived of a justifying righteousness (Rom.5:1-2,9,18).
Every sinner is beside himself (out of their mind, dazed, dumbfounded, stunned); the reason being lust and desire. He is governed by his human appetite, which rages within him. His understanding is blinded, he cannot make a distinction between good and evil; and when he has detected anything, his will is stubborn, and chooses the evil road. Conversion (returning to the Father) is the return of a soul to itself. The first thoughts of conversion arise when the soul recognizes what a poor miserable creature it is, and knows it is ready to perish forever, while a poor soul belonging to God never wants any good thing that is needed. These things increase in a sou's thoughts of returning to his heavenly Father, and are the work of the Holy Spirit, for of ourselves, we are not able so much as to think one good thought.
The younger son is like millions today, rebellious, wild and immature. They want NO authority over them, they want to be free to live as they please. The younger son had to hit rock bottom before he came to his senses. So many times it takes great sorrow and tragedy to cause people to look to the ONLY One who can help them . . . JESUS! If you are you trying to live life your own way, angrily pushing aside any responsibility or commitment that gets in your way, I would suggest that you: Stop, Look and Listen! The Holy Spirit is trying to get your attention. Jesus is knocking at your heart’s door (Rev.3:20). You do NOT know when God shall you’re your soul away. When you are dead, there are NO more chances to get into Heaven. And only Hell then remains for you.
Luke 15:18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, (KJV)
I will arise and go to my father. . . he finally comes to a decision, with the help of the Holy Spirit, and decides to leave the far country. He had left the harlots, and his old way of living before, but was still in the same country. This is possible for a person to do, and still remain unregenerate, an unbeliever, still a child of the devil (1 Jn.3:10). But, here he is now ready to leave the country itself, and his new acquaintance (the citizen), and determined to leave his swine and husks.
And will say unto him, Father I have sinned against heaven, and before thee . . . he had sinned openly in the face of the heavens, who were witnesses against him, and against God who dwells in Heaven. It was usual for the Jews to call God, heaven (Mat.21:25). Anyone that speaks with an cruel tongue sins against heaven and earth (Ps.73:9), for they set their mouth against the heavens and their tongue walketh through the earth.
The younger brother had sinned against God Himself, NOT just against men, and human laws. ALL sin is a transgression of the law of God! He had finally come to his senses and the thought of sin being committed against a God of infinite holiness, justice, goodness, grace, and mercy, cut him to the core. He was determined to go back to God his Father, and Him only, for the pardon of his sin, against whom it was committed, for he was now totally convinced of His omniscience.
Sin may be committed against a man, and he not know it . . . BUT . . . whatever is committed against God, is in His sight! He knows it! He is God omniscient, although sinners take no notice of this perfection of His, but continue on in their sin, as if it was not seen or known by God. But when the Holy Spirit works successfully upon the heart of a sinner, he convinces the person of God’s omniscience. This man was convinced, and he was determined to go to God, and acknowledge his sin before Him (Ps.51:3); and that it was committed in his sight; and that he could not be justified in His sight by any righteousness of his own (Isa.64:6; Rom.5:1-2); and therefore humbly desires pardon at His hands (1 Jn.1:8-10). For His omniscience, see: http://hisservants.org/is_jesus_god_h_s.htm
Luke 15:19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. (KJV)
And am no more worthy to be called thy son . . . this included all the Jews, not only by creation and providential care, and ALL mankind, who transgress against a pure and holy God. The younger son now owns his unworthiness to be called his fathers’ son.
Make me as one of thy hired servants . . . this is said not from a submissive spirit, but to express the low thoughts he had of himself, and the great desire he had to be fed from his father's table. What an honor and joy it would be to this repentant son, if he could just be the lowest member in his father’s family. He would now gladly be a doorkeeper in his house; rather than to dwell in the tents of sin, or continue in this hungry and starving condition. He really did come to himself! (Verse 17).
Luke 15:20 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. (KJV)
And he arose, and came to his father . . . this shows that his persistence to arise was NOT of nature, but of the grace of God, by its being put into execution. It was made and executed, NOT in his own strength, but in the strength of the Holy Spirit! He did not discuss with flesh and blood; nor listen to any possible discouragements which might arise, nor the distance of the way, the danger in it, the possible cold reception, if not rejection he might receive from his father. He rose immediately; he stood on his feet, in obedience to the heavenly call, being assisted by the amazing grace of God. He arose, and left the far country, the citizen, swine, and husks, and denied both his sinful and righteous self.
But when he was yet a great way off . . . this is not to be understood of his state of alienation from God, which is before meant by his being in a far country; but the distance he saw, as being conscious of his vileness and unworthiness. It also expresses the humility he had when he had a proper view of himself. He knew he had a desperate need of his father’s grace.
His father saw him . . . God saw him when he was in the far country, spending his money on harlots and riotous living. God saw him when he was in the midst of the hogs in their filthy hog pen, and God saw him when he ate hog food (husks). God also saw him when he came to himself, and all the signs and willpower of his heart; God saw him in his first movement towards Him, and God looked at the repentant sinner with an eye of love, compassion and pity.
And had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. . . God is ALWAYS full of compassion! He pities the sinner, just as a father does his children. God had compassion on him, and his heart of pity moved towards him, he being as one grieved in spirit for his sins, and wounded with a sense of them, and wanting pardon, as starving and famishing, and as naked, and without clothing (Rev.3:17). My friend, God always makes of the first move, it comes from His grace in the hearts of repentant sinners, bringing speedy relief to distressed ones. And kissed him . . . as a token of love; and as owning him as son, as a sign of reconciliation (Rom.5:1-2,10) and friendship; and was a proof to him to His nearness. It is a revelation of great love indeed! (Jn.3:16; 15:16; Lk.7:47; 2 Cor.5:14-15; Gal.5:22; Eph.2:3-5; Tit.3:3-5; 1 Jn.4:10,19)
Luke 15:21 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. (KJV)
And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight . . . this phrase is Jewish. Psalm 51:4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. (KJV)
And am no more worthy to be called thy son . . . he was greatly grieved to say this, which fully expresses his sense of his vileness and unworthiness. This is so true of ALL sincerely repentant sinners! We know from the depths of our soul, that sin is an absolute abomination to Almighty God, and when we come to our senses, we know that it hurts God when we sin against Him, when we disobey Him. We know that we are not worthy to be called His child.
Luke 15:22 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: (KJV)
But the father said to his servants . . . the word "but" expresses much grace, as in (1 Cor.6:11; Eph.2:4; 1Tim.1:13; Tit.3:4). It means that although the son had behaved so badly, and was now come to himself, he wanted to be just a hired servant, feeling totally unworthy to be called a son. Many of us know this feeling! Unless a person has this feeling, they are NOT a TRUE child of God! BUT . . . the "father", against whom he had sinned, would not hear to it.
Said to his servants . . . not the angels, but the ministers of the Gospel; who are the servants of the most high God; and whose business it is to set forth, in the ministry of the Gospel, the righteousness of Christ, and the everlasting love of God; and to direct souls to a lifestyle suitable to the Gospel of Christ. The Gospel of Christ is for our nourishment, our joy and our comfort. These servants that the father of the son ordered, did NOT remove him from His Presence, as one whom He could not look at; nor did they terrify or frighten him with the curse and condemnation of the law, and fill his mind with wrath and terror. He did not even chastise and rebuke him for his former way of living, and to reprimand him with it. Instead, He conferred on him all the honor, favors and blessings that could be expected of a son. What a good God we have!
Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him . . . the "best robe" is NOT water baptism; NOT a holy lifestyle, NOT any particular God given talent and NOT Adam's robe of innocence. The best robe is the righteousness of Christ which is often compared to a robe, or a garment (Isa.61:10; Zec.3:4; Rom.3:22; 5:17; 10:4,6; 1 Cor.1:30; Gal.2:21; Rev.19:8). The best robe is a sign of dignity and honor, proof of the prodigal’s acceptance back into the family.
There is NOTHING in believers, that can cover their naked souls, nor hide their sins from the avenging eye of God’s divine justice, or protect them from the wrath to come (Mat.3:7; Lk.3:7; 1 Thes.1:10; Rev.6:17; 11:18; 16:19). There is NOTHING to beautify and adorn them, and make them acceptable in God’s eyes; and gives them a right and title to eternal life, except faith in JESUS!
And put a ring on his hand . . . The father then orders the servants to bring a ring for the son's hand, a sign of authority and sonship. I think the "ring" means the everlasting love of God; and which, like a ring, is round, having neither beginning nor end. It does not begin with the obedience of His people, nor with their love to him; nor with their conversion; nor with the mission, sufferings, and death of Christ. God’s love was from all eternity; nor will it ever have an end, nor shall there ever be any separation from it (Rom.8:38-39). God’s love is the bond of a marvelous union, it cannot be dissolved; and this love being presented to the soul, is an awesome token of freedom; setting us free from the bondage of corruption, and from the captivity of Satan. God’s love is a mark of great honor, a sign of spiritual riches, and is a confirmation of being God’s son and God’s heir.
And shoes on his feet . . . by feet are meant the outward walk and lifestyle, which in persons called by grace should be different than what it was before, it should be spiritual and heavenly. And shoes on his feet . . . this would not be a servant, for servants did not wear shoes, nor did they wear expensive clothing or rings. All these things represent what we receive from Jesus upon our salvation: the robe of the Redeemer's righteousness (Isa.61:10), the privilege of sharing of the Spirit of adoption (Eph.1:5), and feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of peace, prepared to walk in the ways of holiness (Song 7:1; Eph.6:15).
Luke 15:23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: (KJV)
And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill . . . a fattened calf is prepared, and a party is held (blood was shed = atonement for sin, Heb.9:22). Fatted calves in those times were saved for special occasions such as the Day of Atonement (Lev.23:26-32). This was not just any party; it was a rare and complete celebration. Had the younger brother been dealt with according to the Law, there would have been a funeral, not a celebration. Psalm 103:10-13 He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. 11 For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. 12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. 13 Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. (KJV)
Instead of condemnation and criticism, there is great rejoicing for a son who had been dead but now is alive, who once was lost but now is found (Rom.8:1; Jn.5:24). Consider the parallel between “dead” and “alive” and “lost” and “found”. . . terms that also apply to a person’s state before and after conversion to Christ (Eph.2:1-5). This portrays what happens in Heaven over one repentant sinner (Lk.15:7,10). Thank You Jesus!
Christ Jesus is the all-time Best Provision that can ever be set before a believer, or that a believer can feed upon! Jesus is the BEST that God can give, or that saints should ever want. Jesus is the True and real Food, spiritual, flavorful, satisfying, and long-lasting (Jn.6:33,35;48,51). Only Jesus can give and preserve life; nourish, strengthen, refresh and delight. "Bringing it hither" means OUR preaching Christ; OUR opening the Scriptures concerning Him; OUR setting Him before believers as their only proper food. "Killing" means setting Him forth in the Gospel, as crucified and slain, for saints by faith to feed and live upon.
And let us eat and be merry . . . consider these words as the words of the heavenly Father, they show to us, that the eternal God, from the day that a repenting soul has the Blood of Christ applied to it, and is clothed with His righteousness, is at peace with his soul, has a fellowship with it, and that it from that time has a true right to spiritual rejoicing; for light is sown for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart (Ps.32:11; 97:11), and even though the soul at present, through trials and temptations, cannot grasp it, and may not actually possess that joy and peace which follow believing in faith, yet the soul has a right to it, and indeed none but that soul that believes in faith can ever have peace.
Luke 15:24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. (KJV)
For this my son was dead . . . this states the reason for the above entertainment, and for all the spiritual joy. The father acknowledges the returning penitent as his son; even though he had behaved so wickedly before, and though the son judged himself unworthy of the relationship. This the Father did, by sending the Spirit of adoption into his heart, to witness his son-ship to him; taking notice of his past state and condition, to show the reason why there was such joy. For before he was "dead", dead in Adam, in whom all died; dead in law, being under a sentence of condemnation and death; and dead in trespasses and sins, which is a spiritual or moral death. Spiritual death is separation from God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Spiritual death is alienation from the life of God. Spiritual death is an utter distortion of the image of God. It is a loss of original righteousness; where the soul lies in the total darkness of the understanding of God. Spiritual death is the immoral chaos of affections. It is the pollution of the mind and conscience, the stubbornness of the will; and no power to do that which is spiritually good and right.
And is alive again . . . the Spirit of life from Christ had entered into him, and Christ was in his heart; and a standard of life was implanted into him; a divine image was stamped upon his soul; his understanding was brought to light about things of God; his will yielded to God, His will and His law, and to Christ and His righteousness, and the way of salvation by Him, and to His commands and ordinances; and to doctrines of grace and holiness. It was entirely owing to the power and grace of God: for every one that is quickened by the Spirit of God shall never enter into condemnation, nor die again, but shall live and reign with Christ forever.
He was lost . . . lost in the original sin of Adam, and lost in his own sins, as he was when in the far country, and when in the midst of the swine and husks. He was SO lost that he knew not where he was, nor what a horrible condition he was in. He did not know how to get out of it, nor how he could help himself.
And is found . . . not only did he come to himself, but also was bought by Christ in redemption, by the Spirit of Christ in the effectual calling. When he saw his lost state and condition and when he was directed and brought home to his Father's house, and entertained with all the provisions of it; there was great reason to rejoice and be glad, for all who shall be found in Christ at death and at judgment, shall be with Him for all eternity.
And they began to be merry . . . all parties. The Father expressed His joy, and the gladness of His heart, upon the return of His son to him; he encouraged all to be happy on this account.
This prodigal son would have been totally satisfied to return home as a slave, but to his surprise and delight, he is restored back into the full privilege of being his father’s son. He had been restored from a state of destitution to complete restoration. That is what God's grace does for a penitent sinner (Ps.40:2; 103:4). Not only are we forgiven, but we are adopted as God’s children, heirs of God and join theirs with Christ, of His incomparable riches (Rom.8:16-17; Eph.1:18-19).
Was dead could have two meanings: #1. Supposed that he was spiritually dead, but now he is alive. #2. He was dead to virtue . . . he was sunk in pleasure and vice. (1 Tim.5:6; Mat.8:22; Rom.6:13). So, to be restored to virtue is said to be restored to life (Rom.6:13; Rev.3:1; Eph.2:1). I really think that the last one is meant here.
Was lost. Had wandered away from home, and knew not where he was.
Is found. He came to himself and fell into his father’s arms.
Luke 15:25 Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing. (KJV)
Now his elder son was in the field . . . working. Some say this eldest son is meant to represent the Pharisees who had found fault with Jesus. The oldest son illustrates the Pharisees and the scribes who outwardly lived blameless lives, but inwardly their attitudes were abominable (Mat.23:25-28). This was true of the older son who worked hard, obeyed his father, and brought no disgrace to his family or townspeople.
Some think that the elder son is represented by the Jews, who were cruel and vicious to the Gentiles, because of the offer of the grace of the Gospel to them. Others think that the elder son is represented by hypocrites, who swelling in all opinion of themselves, and their own righteousness, have no patience to hear that any others should be preferred in the favor of God before them. What we must consider is, that even the best of God's people, IF they truly search their own hearts, will find some pride and envy there.
The elder son is his fathers’s son by creation, but not by redemption.
And as he came and drew nigh to the house . . . it is clear by his words and actions, upon his brothers return, that he is shows no love for his father or brother. He should have been the host at the feast to celebrate his brother’s return, yet he stayed in the field. This alone would have brought public disgrace to the father. But the father, with great patience, goes to his angry and hurting son.
He heard musick and dancing . . . dancing was common among the Hebrews, and was used on different occasions. Miriam celebrated the deliverance of the children of Israel from Egypt in dances as well as songs (Ex.15:20). David danced before the ark (2 Sam.6:14). It was common at Jewish feasts (Judg.21:19-21) and in public triumphs (Judg.11:34), and at all seasons of joy and rejoicing (Ps.30:11; Jer.31:4,13). It was also used in religious services by the idolaters (Ex.32:19), and also by the Jews, at times, in their religious services (Ps.149:3; 150:4). Here it was an expression of rejoicing. The Lord expresses no opinion about dancing, He simply states the fact, He did not comment on it.
Luke 15:26 And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. (KJV)
And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant . . . self-righteous people, such as the Scribes and Pharisees were/are ignorant of the Truths of the Gospel. They do not understand them, nor comprehend what is meant by them. They cannot absorb or discern the doctrine of God's everlasting love. The Gospel sets forth the love and kindness of the Lord, and the haughty and proud manner in which His gracious kindness is often received by haters of it. What is it that stirs up a person to hate and detest those for whom the Saviour has shed His precious Blood? My friend, they are objects of the Father's choice, and temples of the Holy Ghost! This springs from arrogant pride, self-preference, and ignorance of God’s Holy Word. The mercy and grace of our God in Christ Jesus, shine almost as bright in His tender and gentle bearing with spiteful saints, as His receiving prodigal sinners upon their repentance. It is unspeakable happiness for all God’s children, who keep close to their Father's house, knowing that they are His own, and shall be with Him forever. Great joy comes to ALL those who graciously accept Christ's invitation.
Luke 15:27 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. (KJV)
And he said unto him, Thy brother is come . . . the Pharisees had complained about Jesus “he receiveth sinners” (verse 2). So too, the elder son complains that the father had welcomed the prodigal.
And thy father hath killed the fatted calf . . . the older brother’s focus was only on himself, and as a result there is no joy in his brother’s coming home. He is so consumed with issues of fairness and equity that he does not see the tremendous value of his brother’s repentance and return. He does not realize that: 1 John 2:9-11 He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. 10 He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. 11 But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes. (KJV)
The older brother allows anger to take root deep in his heart to the point that he cannot show compassion to his brother, and is unable to forgive the supposed sin of his father against him. He prefers to harbor his anger instead of enjoying fellowship with his father and brother. He sees his brother’s return as a threat to his own inheritance. WHY should he have to share his portion with a brother who has squandered his away? WHY hadn’t his father rejoiced in his presence throughout all his faithful years of service?
Because he hath received him safe and sound . . . the younger son had returned safe and in good health. Safe and sound . . . he had returned safe, even though he had been in a far country, and in a mighty famine, and nearly starved.
Luke 15:28 And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him. (KJV)
And he was angry . . . especially about the fatted calf that was killed. The preaching of a crucified Christ, and of free and full salvation by Him, is very displeasing and provoking to self-righteous people. They are angry that it should be free, that election to salvation should be of grace, that justification should be freely by the grace of God, and that pardon of sin should be according to the riches of God's grace, and salvation be by grace, and not by works. They are angry that it is discriminating, that God should allow some, but not all to salvation (Mat.7:13-14; 22:14). Mat. 22:14 For many are called, but few are chosen. (KJV) Mat.20:16 So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen. (KJV) Luke 13:23-24 Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, 24 Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. (KJV)
Personally, I think that everyone is called, or receives an invitation, or hears the knock at their heart’s door . . . but there are just a meager few who respond to the call, or accept the invitation, or open the door to Jesus.
And would not go in . . . into his father's house, nor to the feast, nor into the Kingdom of Heaven, or Gospel dispensation. The Scribes and Pharisees shut it up to themselves, and would neither go in themselves, nor allow others to go in. They did not believe Jesus to be the Messiah, nor did they receive Him but instead denied and rejected Him. They paid NO attention to His doctrines, nor did they submit to the ordinances of the Gospel dispensation.
Therefore came his father out . . . not in a way of wrath and judgment, but in the ministry of the Word; for although the Jews rejected it, the Gospel was not immediately taken away from them, but continued again after again, for some considerable time. The Jews of old had the Word, both by angels and men (Gen.16:7; Judg.6:11; 1 Ki.13:18; Gal.3:19). God often went to the Jews by His prophets, and lastly by His only begotten Son; and even though the Jews were angry with Jesus, and rejected Him, the ministry of the Word continued, by the apostles of Christ, and continued a good while, which shows the goodness and grace of God, and His patience and longsuffering towards them. In today’s world, the Gospel is brought by the disciples of Jesus, not only preachers and teachers but ALL the saints! In the Great Tribulation, the Gospel shall be brought by angels: Rev. 14:6-7 Rev. 14:6-7 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, 7 Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters. (KJV)
And entreated him . . . the father pleaded with his older son to go in the house. So too today, God the Father still pleads with all those who would not join in the welcome of repentant sinners. It shows the long suffering of our Almighty God.
Luke 15:29 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: (KJV)
And he answering, said to his father . . . praising himself, and criticizing his father.
Lo, these many years do I serve thee . . . this is the accurate spirit of a Pharisee, a self-righteous spirit. His charges reveal while he was supposedly with the father, he was far away from him in spirit. Although he was called a son, yet he was more like a servant; of a submissive character, and under a spirit of bondage, whereas his younger brother had never served him, but only his own lusts; and yet as soon as he came home, before he could enter upon service to his father, this great feast was made for him, which he greatly resented. "I do serve thee" means the continuance and constancy of his service; and indicating that his life had been, and was one continued series of obedience.
Neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment . . . which although true of the elect angels, can never be said of any of the sons of men. This shows that he had never been under the work of the Holy Spirit who convinces of sin; and he had never seen himself in a true light, in the mirror of that law. He pretended to serve God, but he was a stranger, having the plague of sin in his own heart, and he was a deceiver (to himself), and the grace of God was not in him. He was not be a good man, for all good men in their groans, complaints, confessions and their prayers, apply for renewal of God’s pardoning grace; and the examination of all wise and good men in all ages, this most fully proves the older son to be a Pharisee, a hypocrite.
And yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends . . . a kid, a young goat which was of far less value than a fatted calf. He complains that while his father had never given him a thing of so little value as a kid, he had now given his other son the fatted calf.
Make merry with . . . entertain his friends, give them a feast. This complaint was reasonable to the older brother, for his father had divided his property, and gave to the younger brother what rightfully belonged to him, and what was left should belong to him. But his father had consistently treated him with kindness, and the wealth of his father was beyond description.
This simply illustrates the conduct of the scribes and Pharisees, and the foolishness of their complaint.
Luke 15:30 But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. (KJV)
But as soon as this thy son was come . . . thy son, not my brother! He will not own him as a brother, even though the father had owned him as a son. He was offended that the fatted calf should be killed, and he never even got a cheap kid offered to him. He showed immediately his contempt for his younger brother, and for his father for having received him as he did. Never was there a more striking instance of minor malice, or more unwarranted disregard of a father's conduct and will.
Which hath devoured thy living with harlots . . . thy living, spent his money. This is still meant to irritate the father, and set him against his younger son. It was true that the younger son had been guilty, foolish and ungrateful . . . but he repented! That was of far more importance to the father than all his property; and in the joy that he was penitent and was safe, the father forgot all his ingratitude and folly. So too, should the elder son have done. With harlots . . . in rioting and drunkenness, in chambering and wantonness, in gluttony and debauchery:
Thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. . . see verse 23.
Luke 15:31 And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. (KJV)
And he said to him, Son, thou art ever with me . . . the property had been divided. What remained belonged to the elder son. He was heir to it all, and had a right, if he chose, to use it. He had therefore had absolutely no right to complain.
And all that I have is thine . . . the father pleads with the envious and furious brother and tries to bring him to a better frame of mind, just as Christ Jesus pleaded with Israel. All that I have is thine. Romans 8:17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. (KJV) . . . This thy brother . . . . IF a TRUE son of God, then the returned sinner is his brother. Unless the older brother can welcome the prodigal son, then HE is the lost son.
Luke 15:32 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. (KJV)
It was meet that we should make merry . . . it was right, it was fit, that the father, son and servants should be merry. (Verses 23-24). And this elder brother also, because of the relationship to him, if he had had the same spiritual affection the apostle had for his brethren and kinsmen, according to the flesh (Rom.9:3; 10:1), and he too would have rejoiced at the change and return of sinners by repentance.
And be glad . . . as his father was, and the angels in heaven are (Lk.15:10).
For this thy brother . . . but, he would not own him as such,
Was dead, and is alive again, and was lost, and is found . . . (See Lk.15:24). So the parable is ended with the elder brother being silenced, and having nothing to say against such strong reasoning.
Jesus does not have an application attached to this parable. The reader is left to decide that for himself. As this parable represents the redeeming love of God, it has been well called the Gospel in the Gospel. When it is compared to other parables, you will see that it is the Crown and Pearl of all the parables of the Lord Jesus!
This enlightening and beautiful parable was designed to justify the conduct of Jesus . . . to show the Jews that it was RIGHT to receive sinners (including Gentiles), and that the conduct of the Pharisees was absolutely unreasonable. The elder son represents the Pharisees; the younger, the repentant and returning sinner, be they Jew OR Gentile; and the father is Almighty God, who is always ready, willing and able to receive them. The parable had the intended effect. It silenced the enemies of Jesus and vindicated His own conduct. There really is not anywhere, to be found a more beautiful and touching story than this. Every circumstance is tender and perfectly chosen; every word has a deep down meaning; every image is beautiful. The story ends just where it makes its deepest impression.
What can we learn from this parable:
#1. The character of a sinner is selfish. He wants all he can get, now!
#2. Sinners waste blessings, leaving them in a state of want and unhappiness. A life of sin brings on spiritual want and misery. It destroys our thinking, numbs the mind, hardens the heart, abuses the goodness of God, and makes us careless of God who gave us all that we have, and uncaring about the consequences of our conduct.
#3. Sinners do NOT consider future woes that shall come upon them. The young, wasteful man did not care cared about any calamities that might result because of his conduct. He went on unaware, like every sinner, enjoying himself, wildly squandering what he has.
#4. Afflictions are often God’s way of bringing sinners to think. While his money lasted the prodigal cared nothing about his father. When that was gone, he was in the midst of a famine, he then thought of his ways. When sinners are prosperous, they think little about God, BUT when he lowers the boom on them, and they must pass through some serious difficulties, then they think of God and remember that God can give them comfort.
#5. This parable makes us THINK of the wants and woes of a sinner. Consider the following: (a) He had spent all. He had nothing. Just like the sinner. He has no righteousness, no comfort. (b) He was far from God, away from his father, and in a land of strangers.
(c) His condition was shameful. He was needy, in a famine, without a friend. So too is the sinner. His condition is rightly indicated by that of the prodigal, who gladly partook of the food of swine. The sinner takes the world for his portion, and it cannot supplies the wants of his soul, nor gives him comfort when he is far away from his Father's home and from God.
#6. The sinner in this situation often applies to the wrong source for comfort, (Lk,15:15). The prodigal should at once have returned to his father, but he rather chose to become a servant of a citizen of that region. The sinner, when sensible of his sins, should return at once to God; but he often continues still to wander. He tries new objects. He seeks new pleasures and new friends, and finds them equally unsatisfactory. He engages in new pursuits, but all in vain. He is still comfortless, and in a strange, a famished land.
In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the main character is the forgiving father, whose character remains constant throughout the story, and is a wonderful picture of God. In telling the story, Jesus identifies Himself with God in His loving attitude to the lost. The younger son symbolizes the lost (the tax collectors and sinners of that day, Lk.15:1), and the elder brother represents the self-righteous (the Pharisees and teachers of the law of that day, Lk.15:2). The major subject of this parable seems not to be so much the conversion of the sinner, as in the other two parables of Luke 15, but instead the restoration of a believer into fellowship with the Father. In the first two parables, the owner went out to look for what was lost, while in this story the father waits and watches eagerly for his son's return. We see a progression through the three parables from the relationship of one in a hundred (Lk.15:1-7), to one in ten (Lk.15:8-10), to one in one (Lk.15:11-32), which clearly represents God’s love for each and every person and that He is personally focused towards ALL humanity. We see the grace of the father which overshadows the sinfulness of the son. It is the memory of the father’s goodness that finally brings the prodigal son to repentance (Rom.2:4).
A sinful state is also a state of constant discontent. This son learned the hard way that greed leads to a life of dissatisfaction and disappointment. He also learned that the most valuable things in life are the things you cannot buy at any price or can they be replaced.
The picture of the father receiving the son back into relationship is a picture of how we should respond to repentant sinners as well (1 Jn.4:20-21; Gal.6:1; Jam.5:19-20), because “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom.3:23). WE ALL are included in that “all,” and we must remember that “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isa.64:6), apart from Christ. It is only by God’s grace that we are saved, NOT by works that we may boast (Eph.2:8-9). That is the main message of the Parable of the Prodigal Son.
Gospel of Luke
ch.1 . . ch.2 . . ch.3 . . ch.4 . . ch.5 . . ch.6 . . ch.7 . . ch.8 . . ch.9 . . ch.10 . . ch.11 . . ch.12 . . ch.13 . . ch.14 . . ch.15 . . ch.16 . . ch.17 . . ch.18 . .ch.19. . ch.20 . . ch.21 . . ch.22 . . ch.23 . . ch.24