The parable of the prodigal son is very popular but also very misunderstood. It's about the grace of the Father.
“Til sin be bitter, grace cannot be sweet.
In order to celebrate God’s grace, you need to see your sin and our need for Him.”
Celebrating the Father’s Grace
Context: Jesus is with tax collectors and sinners as well as Pharisees. There is a contrast between messy immoral people with the righteous and holy. The parable helps both sinners and Pharisees see God's grace.
How would these two groups see Jesus’ parable?
God's grace covers our immorality 11-24
Parable: Man has younger son and older son. The inheritance is divided into thirds. Older son got double portion, younger son gets the third. NO ONE ever asks for their share of the inheritance before the father dies, because it is essentially wishing his father was dead! The father divided his property (his “bios”) and gave it to his son. In a few days later, he wastes his money recklessly. (Prodigal means reckless and wasteful.) The son turns to being a farmhand, working with pigs and desiring to eat the pigs’ food. (For context: pigs were ceremonially unclean and dirty.) (For the Pharisees, they would have liked the parable to end there.) While the son is still FAR AWAY, the Father RUNS UP TO HIM (not even waiting for his son!!!) and shows COMPASSION, repeatedly kissing him. The son receives the ROBE of the FATHER, and the FAMILY RING, and SHOES (which signifies a free person, not a slave)The son is has been instantly reinstated as part of the family again. No longer a slave and a stranger.
- The son does not deserve any of it. The father willingly gives grace.
- The father works to initiate the grace. This is how us rebellious sinners have grace. The heavenly father is always ready to receive repentant sinners.
- The father will welcome the sinner HOME, ALWAYS.
- Your sin is never beyond God’s grace.
- When Christ died on the cross, he knew every sin you would ever commit and STILL died for you
God's grace covers our morality
- The gospel also saves us from our self righteousness; it’s not about how good we are or how much good we do
- The older son was mad! He feels wronged; he stayed faithful yet was never rewarded
- The older son doesn't even acknowledge the younger son being in the same family as him
- The father COMES OUT TO MEET THE SELF-RIGHTEOUS. The father initiates once again.
- The son calls out his father (rudely)
- The son was dishonoring his father as well!!! He was talking down his father.
- “My child”, the father acknowledges what the son did. “I am with you”
- The sinners are the younger brother, the Pharisees are the older brother
What does this mean for us? Are we the prodigal or righteous son? Do you clean yourself up before going to God, not seeing His grace as sufficient? How’s your prayer life? Are you dependent on Him?
“Our worst days are never so bad that we are beyond God’s grace. Our best days are never so good we are beyond the need of God’d grace.”
The two sons are the opposite sides of the same coin. Both are after the father’s things. They wanted their inheritance, not him. They just do it in different ways. The older brother obeys to get his inheritance; his actions are not out of love.
Grace is sufficient for both morality and immorality. God pursues the lost.
Both of these sons believed what they had done in the past determined their value. The younger son saw his value as low because he messed up. The older son saw his value as high because he didn’t.
If you ground yourself in feelings and not truth, you’ll never experience joy.
Look at who God is and what God has done first, because that is what determines who we are.
A good older brother would have gone to look for the younger brother.
Hebrews 2: Christ is our perfect older brother. He came FOR US, unlike the older brother in the story. Christ becomes what the younger son thought he was. He took on the wrath and justice of the Father so that we can be treated as God’s children.
There’s a rejoicing in heaven when people repent.
When you repent, it’s an opportunity for God’s grace to be magnified.