Father Of The Prodigal Son
by Bernie Parsons
Of The Prodigal Son
Tonight I want to tell you the story of a
fathers heartbreak. As a father myself, I find this to be a very touching story. It
is a story that Jesus told. I am speaking of the story of the prodigal son.
However, I wish to visit it from the fathers perspective.
Luke 15:11-12 And he said, A
certain man had two sons: 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.
Can you envision the disappointment of this
father? He has worked hard all his life, has built a livelihood for his family, and has no
doubt hoped that his son would follow in his footsteps. He has planned to turn over the
family business to his sons when he retires.
Now his son is asking for his share of the
inheritance before it is time. The father could refuse. If he does, his son may hate him
forever, may go away on his own, destitute and bound for disaster. But he loves his son,
so after weighing the advantages and disadvantages like any wise father, he calculates
what is due his son, and gives him the value of it. Maybe
in his heart he is still hoping that the son will start a business of his own, make his
own wealth, and find a good wife with whom to settle down. There is still a chance that
the young man will be successful on his own.
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.
The young son leaves home. He doesnt
go across town, or down the roadhe leaves the country. His father is heartbroken.
The son for whom he had such high hopes is gone. He is out of touch--so far away that his
father cant check up on him to see if he is all right, so far away that His father
cannot give him godly advice. This is no doubt a deliberate choice by the son, to keep his
father from interfering with his choices.
He wastes his inheritance, blows it all on
wasteful living. He wastes it on prostitutes and neer-do-wells, fair-weather friends
who abandon him when the money is gone. You know the type. Hangers-on who are in it for
the short haul, draining him dry until all his inheritance is spent. Then they leave him
His father pauses from time to time
throughout the day, wondering where his son is and what he is doing. Is he behaving? Is he
in trouble? What if he needs guidance, or assistance of some sort? He thinks back on the
joyful birth of his younger son, the happy youth as his son grew into a young man. He
remembers the innocent child at play, the eager young boy who listened to his
The father looks away toward the horizon,
tears blurring is eyes, longing for the familiar silhouette of his son, returning from the
far country. Stare as he might, there is no one there. Sadly, he turns away and goes about
his business. Life is not the same as it was. The happiness is gone. He asks troubling
questions of himself. Did I do the right thing? Should I have refused my son his
inheritance? He would have despised me! But I have lost him anyway! Where did I go wrong?
Luke 15:14 And when he had
spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.
15 And he went and joined himself to
a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
Can you picture how low he has sunk? The
Jews did not eat swine--or hogs--and certainly his father would not have approved of his
new vocation. But it is all that he can find, because there is a food shortage and times
are hard. Have you ever been around a hog-pen? The stench of hog urine and feces is so
over-powering that one can hardly bear to approach it.
My family and I were on vacation to the
Great Smoky Mountains one summer when the kids were younger, and I always loved going to
the pioneer homestead over the mountains in North Carolina. There were buildings and
displays set up to show life as it was in a quieter time.
Tourists were walking about, looking at the displays, checking things out. I
noticed that when they approached a certain area, most of them wheeled about and walked
quickly away. Curiosity overcame me, and I approached the exhibit. When I was about ten
feet away I detected the deterrentit was a hog pen. Believe me when I tell you that
this young man would have found other employment if it were available!
Luke 15:16 And he would fain
have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto
The boy is so hungry that he is willing to
eat the cast-off grain husks that were not fit for human consumption. Why do you think
that they were feeding them to the pigs?
About this time the father is undoubtedly
receiving reports from migrants looking for work, or traders passing through. He hears
reports about the famine in the far country, and he wonders about his boy. Is he all
right? Is he getting enough to eat? Is he able to hang onto his inheritance? Basic
necessities become very expensive when they are scarce. He stands outside, looking toward
the far country. He weeps, crying into the night: Son, are you alright? God forgive
me for letting him go away like that!
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!
The boy starts thinking about his
situation, and realizes how much his father means to him. His father is a kind and
generous man, a godly sort. He would be much better off working as a hired hand for his
father, where he would be well-fed and looked after. He gets homesick, and sick with the
realization of the terrible mistake he has made. He longs for his fathers love. He
wrestles with the pros and cons of returning home, poverty-stricken, emaciated, and
spiritually broken. He finally makes up his mind.
Luke 15:18 I will arise and go
to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before
19 And am no more worthy to be
called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.
The boy realizes that he has sinned against
his father on the earth, and his God in heaven. He decides to go home. He dreads it. His
father will be angry that he went away and wasted all his inheritance, and is reduced to
this pitiful state. Yet, having somewhat matured lately, he decides to return home to his
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.
The father, ever watchful for his son,
dejectedly gazes across the fields, watching the path home as he has done hundreds of
times. He spies a figure, a familiar silhouettecould it be his lost son, returning
home? He breaks into a run, half fearful that he is mistaken, half joyous to think that
his son is at long last returning home. Weeping uncontrollably, he runs to his son,
throwing his arms around him, kissing his neck.
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.
The son knows what he deserves. If his
father were to disown him and demand that he leave immediately, that outcome would be
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:
23 And bring hither the fatted calf,
and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:
24 For this my son was dead, and is
alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.
The tearful father is overjoyed beyond
belief. His lost son has returned home. His son has learned his lesson, and he knows where
safety and comfort are. His father rejoices, and calls for a celebration, a big party to
welcome his son home. He gets out his nicest suit of clothes, gives him a ringa sign
of both wealth and trustand has his tired and damaged feet sheathed in comfortable
shoes. Now he orders up a fatted calf, reserved for special occasions, and orders a feast
Why? His son had been lost to sin and the
world, but now is safely at home in his fathers tender, loving care. The household
is buzzing with laughter and preparations for merry-making. The lost son is alive, and
home, and his father is happy once more.
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.
26 And he called one of the
servants, and asked what these things meant.
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
28 And he was angry, and would not
go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him.
The faithful, older son is returning from a
grueling day of work out in the farm fields. He is tired and hungry, ready to eat and
rest. As he approaches the house, he hears the sounds of a party. What is going on? Upon
hearing the news of his brothers return, the elder son grows angry and resentful, so
much so, that he refuses to go into the house where the party is in full swing.
His poor old father is distressed. Happy to
see his lost son returned, he now has to deal with the animosity of the elder son. He begs
to the boy, Please come inside, my son. Join the celebration. Your brother is
snatched from Satans grasp. Rejoice with me. He is hurt and puzzled by the
elder sons behavior, wishing him to understand the importance of what has
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
30 But as soon as this thy son was
come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted
The son is still angry and obstinate,
seething with resentment toward not only his younger brother, but now his father, as well. I have behaved well, he reminds his
father, I have done everything you asked me to do, working the farm hard and helping
hold things together. And did you ever reward me with a party for my friends? No,
My brother took half the family
fortune, that you worked so hard for, and threw it away on
prostituteswhoresand you reward him with a party? He is incredulous,
beside himself, in his anger.
Luke 15:31 And he said unto
him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.
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
the loving father! Through tear-clouded eyes he understands what his son misunderstands.
But, Son, everything I have is at your disposal. It is yours! When we divided the
inheritance, your brother got his, and the rest is yours! Dont you see that? It is
as a responsible, mature person, surely you see that it is proper for us to be glad that
your brother, who could have lost not only his fortune, but his life as well, is returned
safely to the family. Dont you seehe was brought back to us from the dead? He was
lost, but no longerhe is home! What a loving father!
own fleshly father abandoned my mother to fend for eight children when I was a little boy.
But I have a loving Father in heaven. I look forward to the day that He throws His loving
arms around me, and cries, Welcome home, my son!
if you have sinned against your Father in heaven, I want you to see the tears in His eyes
and feel the pain in his heart. He has lost His little child to sin and to the world.
Daily He watches for your return, hoping against hope that you will decide to return home
before you are utterly wasted and destroyed. Why dont you lighten His heart by
returning home to Him before it is too late?
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?
5 And when he hath found
it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
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.
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.
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.
10 Likewise, I say unto
you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that
Repentance comes from a
root word that means almost. Salvation is derived from a root word that means
entire. Can you see the regret in the young sons heart, when he realized
that his former lifestyle was almost, or incompleteinstead of what it
should have been? He returned home to safety, his salvation, where his life was complete,
or entire, again.
Acts 2:37 Now when they heard
this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the
apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and
be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye
shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
39 For the promise is unto you, and to your
children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call.
40 And with many other words did he testify
and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.
There is a celebration
in heaven when the wayward child returns home. Wont you come home? Your Father is
watching for your return tonight, longing for your return, waiting with tears in His eyes,
tears that can turn to tears of joy. Wont you make Him happy, and yourself whole, by
coming home tonight?