The Prodigal Son

Luke 15:11-32


  1. Purpose of parables
  2. Purpose of this parable
  3. "Not without reason, this has been called the greatest short storyin the world." So typical of so many things.

4. Preceded by two parables (lost sheep, lost coin). Value of what was lost, just because it was lost.

5. Percentages: (1 to 99 in sheep; 1 to 9 in coins; 1 to 2 in sons. 1/100th and 1/10th bearable; but half is tragic. Emphasizes the main point Jesus wanted to make.

I. The Son's Foolish Decision

A. Desire for independence, free from control.

  1. Much like today: (Psa. 12:1-4).
  2. God allows us to make foolish decisions, but calls us to account for our choices.

B. The choice to leave

1. "Not many days hence."A man who wishes to enjoy worldly good without reference to God must hustle God out of his thoughts as soon and as completely as possible." - A. Maclaren

2. Far country and sin amount to separation from God (Isa. 59:1-2; Eph. 2:1, 12).

a. Far country is only a step away.

b. 1 Jn 3:4; James 2:10; 2 Jn 9.

II. The Fruit of Self-centeredness

A. The waste of riotous living - lit. without saving anything - Note vs. 30 "devoured thy living with harlots."

B. The famine: Depravity is a famine.

1. Sin is habitual; grows strong and controls. (Think of the term adiction).

2. Evil men wax worse and worse (2 Tim. 3:13).

a. Jesus denies the Calvinistic view of man.

b. Man is only what he is when he is at home with God - 1 Pet. 2:25.

C. The degradation - tended with swine, ate their food.

1. Jews could not eat swine - didn't keep them; regarded tending them loathesome.

2. Object: Shows how deep sin drives people into degradation. ("Sin takes one farther than one intends to go, keeps one longer than one intended to stay, costs one more than one intended to pay."

III. The Return Home

A. Note "when he came to himself" *

B. Not as son - but "hired servants." (lowest

  1. His sensible resolve. "I will go . . ."
  2. Indication of true penitence. "I have sinned" - most honest of all words.

C. The Loving Father **

1. Saw the son from "afar off."

a. No accident the father was there when the son came into view.

b. Our heavenly father is ever there to welcome us home.

2. Never gave son chance to make the request.

3. "Best" Robe - Honor; Ring - authority; shoes -- sin, not slave. "All God's children God Shoes" - sign of freedom


1. How great is God's forgiveness? No sin is beyond his grace (1 John 1:7-8).

2. No matter how far away we stray, his grace is there, but we must accept it by faith and obedience. - Come back today.

*[He came to himself] This is a very expressive phrase. It is commonly applied to one who has been "deranged," and when he recovers we say he has "come to himself." In this place it denotes that the folly of the young man was a kind of derangement-that he was insane. So it is of every sinner. Madness is in their hearts (Eccl 9:3); they are estranged from God, and led, by the influence of evil passions, contrary to their better judgment and the decisions of a sound mind. (Barnes' Notes)

** When asked what he would do with the defeated rebels, Abraham Lincoln said "I will treat them as if they had never been away."

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