The story of the prodigal son, in the book of Luke, chapter 15, verses 11 through 32, is full of redemption and grace. In this story, the son spent all of his father’s inheritance and was living in a pig sty for survival. It took courage for the prodigal son to return to his father’s house. He felt shame and regret for his actions. This is not your typical story of a father disappointed in his son; this is a story of unconditional love.
Jesus is telling a parable to a crowd of people about a prodigal son who left his home for what he thought would be a better life. The story begins in Luke 15, verses 11 through 16, where the son asks for his inheritance. In verse 12, it states that “the father divided the property between them.” The son left his father’s home and went to the country. In verse 14, it says that he spent all his father’s money and lacked food and water with no shelter. He spent all his inheritance and had no other options but to return home. In verse 17, it sums up how we all feel when we make a mistake and do not know how to make it right. It says “when he [the prodigal son] came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father.”
Imagine what this prodigal son was going through as he dreadfully walks back home. His head toward to the ground, kicking the dirt underneath his feet, feeling defeated and angry with himself. He must have felt fear of being shunned by his family. He was struggling on how to forgive himself for his selfish actions and did not know if his family would forgive him as well. As he continues walking home, he is preparing a speech for his father to accept him back into the family. Let us pause for a moment and think about how we handle situations in our lives. We are much like the prodigal son. We worry and fret over our mistakes and how our actions have hurt others. We even memorize long speeches about how sorry we are for hurting them and pray that we are forgiven. We make ourselves miserable, just like the prodigal son, and worry before we even know how the other person feels about us.
The next part of the story is not something you can predict. As we continue reading, we are expecting the father to have a grudge and be hurt by his son’s actions and betrayal. This part of the story cannot be explained by words but by emotion. Instead of being rejected by his father, the prodigal son received love and acceptance. In verses 20 through 21, the prodigal son was approaching his father’s home and “while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” The son filled with shame and regret, is now ready to convince his father that he is not worthy to be in his father’s home.
The prodigal son did not need a speech to be accepted. The father was overjoyed to see him alive and well. The father was not concerned about his son’s actions. Instead of expressing his hurt towards his son, he showed him grace and unconditional love. In fact, the father celebrated his return. In verses 22 through 24, “the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.”
How many times have we hung our head in shame asking God to forgive us for our sins and betrayal? I know, personally, I have been in a place where I did not think God loved me anymore because of my actions and I was afraid to approach Him fearing I would be rejected. This parable is a perfect example of our heavenly Father. He embraces us and accepts us back into His arms. He did not only forgive us for what we have done, but, in addition, He celebrates our return. The All-Knowing God loves us unconditionally. He gives us grace and mercy when we do not deserve it!
In the book of Luke, it says that the father treated his son like royalty with the best robe and a ring. A ring signifies a covenant which means it is sacred. The love that God has for us is deeper, wider, and farther than we could ever imagine. When God places the ring on our finger, it is a covenant with Him. It symbolizes a relationship with God. The robe stands for worthiness and righteousness. We are all worthy of God’s love. As stated in Scripture, we are given the best robe which means God gives us His best for our lives.
Have you walked away from God?
Are you frustrated or angry with Him?
Have you ever had a relationship with God?
Are you seeking something more than you have ever experienced before?
If you have walked away from God or just have doubts of who He is in your life, I encourage you to seek Him and take the journey of faith. Just like the prodigal son, he walked the journey back home to find that his father embraced him rather than condemned him. The heavenly Father will do the same for you. He is just waiting for you to come home to where you belong.
If you have never had a relationship with God, I encourage you, as you continue this journey to know Him, that you will find His hope and love for your life.
I encourage you to find a quiet place alone to pray and write down your thoughts on being a Christian. What does Christianity mean to you? What are some ways you plan to build your faith and have a closer relationship with Christ?