The Parable of the Loving Father
The Parable of the Two Sons
The Parable of Sons and Servants
The Parable of the Lost Son
Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
“When he 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.
“But 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 said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
“But 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.
“Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’
“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”
This parable is often called the Parable of the Prodigal Son because it is about a son who waists his inheritance.
It is also called the "Parable of the Lost Son" because it is about a sinful son who falls away and is considered lost but later repents and is restored to his former status as a son. It is one of three parables (about heaven rejoicing over recovering what has been lost) that Jesus told to tax collectors and sinners right under the nose of the Pharisees.
This parable is also known as the "Parable of the Loving Father" because it demonstrates God's love, mercy and forgiveness towards his children.
Many know it as the "Parable of the Two Sons" as the parable contrasts the two sons. It has as much to say about the second son as the first.
It could also be called the "Parable of Sons and Servants" as this is also a significant theme and a key to understanding some of the deeper meanings of this parable.
Jesus told these parables not just for the benefit of the Tax Collectors who were considered particularly sinful. He told it for the sake of the Pharisees who were inclined to be self righteous.
God's people are his Children. God wants all men to be saved. Those who turn from evil and put their faith in Him, become his children by faith.
If the Pharisees believed that they were God's children because they kept the law, they were missing the point. For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Nobody deserves to be in God's presence because all have sinned. It is only by God's grace that we can come to Him, whether we are big sinners on little ones.
In the first of the three parables in Luke chapter 15, the "Parable of the Lost Sheep" Jesus said, I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. (Luke 15:7)
In the parable of the Lost Son, the Father wants both of his sons to remain in fellowship with him. Our inheritance is not like a cake, our portion does not get smaller the more times it is divided. Our Heavenly father's wealth is infinite. We should not be jealous if our brothers and sisters in Christ seem to receive more mercy than us.
These parables were told to help the Pharisees rather than condemn them.
The fate of the Older Son is left open; the father says to him "all that I have is yours" but the elder brother's reponse is not given.
This parable shows us that God is gracious and that he loves us more than anybody could imagine. He forgives us even when we do the most horrible things. To receive this forgiveness all we have to do is repent and ask him to forgive us. The Father will come to meet us where we are. It does not take any effort. There is nothing that we can do to earn or repay God for what he has done. It is only by His grace that we can be saved. We do not deserve to be forgiven; God just forgives us, even though we do not deserve it. Nobody should think that they are more worthy than anybody else as we have all sinned and we all rely on God's grace for salvation.
The younger son has done the unthinkable and asked for his inheritance before his father has died. Not only this, he has totally blown it and wasted it on wild living.
When he realizes his destitution and comes to his senses, he realizes that he was better off with his father and feels ashamed of himself. He repents and acknowledges his sin and turns back to his father and humbly requests to be his father's servant.
His father is compassionate and graceful and not only forgives his son but gives him a ring and the best robe and sandals for his feet and receives him back as a son. He sacrifices the fattened calf to celebrate his son's return. This is more than what the younger son deserved but that is what grace is all about. It is getting something that we don't deserve.
The eldest son is a bit like the Pharisees; proud, self righteous and feeling superior to his brother and unfairly treated.
Jesus did not tell this parable to condemn the Pharisees, he was hoping that they would not turn away from him. He knew, however, that some would reject him and that he would be crucified.
Jesus told this parable so that sinners would know that God is merciful and forgives sinners when they repent. He also told this parable so the Pharisees would know just where they stood.
This parable shows us that God is gracious enough to forgive us even when we do the unspeakable. When God forgives others, we should not think that we are better and deserve more than them.
The meaning of the Prodigal son in the Light of the Millennium
The Parable of Sons and Servants
God is like the father in this story. His Sons represent Born Again believers.
Although the elder son is contrasted with the younger, the fact remains, both of them are sons. To reinforce this point, there are also servants in the story.
The Father has servants who are not sons but live in his house. The destitute younger son felt that his fathers servants were better off than he was in the World.
The far away places represent the World and the people who live there have no fellowship with the Father and do not serve the Father.
There are many layers in this parable.
The Younger Son is contrasted with the Older Son.
Sons are also contrasted with Servants.
On the surface, this parable illustrates God's love mercy and forgiveness towards His children.
It illustrates how we as God's children can become proud and think we are better than others whom God has forgiven and made His children by giving them His Spirit as an inheritance.
The story was relevant to the sinners and tax collectors (who were like the younger son) and the self righteous Pharisees (who were like the older son) to whom Jesus told it.
It is just as relevant to us today as it was to the Pharisees and Tax collectors in Jesus' time.
As Christians, there are times when we can identify with the older son or the younger son.
The younger son when he was lost in the world was considered dead by the father and the younger son considered his father's servants to have been better off than himself (when he was serving the world).
Who then are the servants in the father's house if they were not Sons?
Can people serve God yet not be Born Again? Can people enjoy Christ's teachings, yet not call him Lord?
In Jesus' time, the Pharises were children of God under the Old Covenant.
The Tax collectors were to be Born Again under a New Covenant when the Holy Spirit was given at Pentecost.
Now, if the elder son was to represent the Old Covenant believers and the younger son was to represent the New Covenant believers, who then are the servants in the story? And who are those in far off lands?
In order to understand this parable prophetically, one needs to understand the difference between servants and sons and also have a good understanding of end times revelation.
God distinguishes between Pagans who serve God and Pagans who persecute Him. (eg The parable of the Sheep and the Goats.)
Those who live in far of lands are those who rebel against the Father.
Those who become Children of God by faith will become the New Jerusalem in Eternity.
Those who only serve the father without becoming sons will become the Nations in Eternity.
Those who rebel against the father and have no fellowship with Him will be thrown into the Lake of Fire in Eternity regardless of whether they became sons or not.
If the Older son represents Israel, He like Israel will be part of the New Jerusalem if he remains in fellowship with the father and will rejoice with the Father that the younger son, the Church, returned to the Father.
Both the Church and Israel will be part of the New Jerusalem in Eternity.
During the Millennium, however, the Church will be in Heaven and Israel will be on Earth.
The Nations who were kind to God's people will help the 144000 Jews to repopulate the Earth during the Millennium. Providing they do not take part in the final rebellion at the end of the Millennium, they will be the Nations outside the New Jerusalem in Eternity (if they are in the Lamb's Book of Life when they are Judged at the Great White Throne).
If you become a child of God by repenting and turning to Him and asking for forgiveness, you will receive an inheritance. God will put his Spirit in you now and you will be part of the New Jerusalem in Eternity. When Christ returns, he will redeem you from the Earth and you will reign with him in Heaven for the Millennium and in the New Jerusalem for all Eternity.
God's people are the children of God. We can become God's children by having faith in Jesus Christ. When we believe in Christ and ask Him to come into our heart, we become a child of God. We are "Born Again". God puts His Spirit in us and we are regenerated. God's children have the same Spirit as the Father.
In eternity, the nations (pagans) who were not thrown into the Lake of Fire will be allowed to enter the New Jerusalem once a year. The leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.
The nations are not the Children of God because they did not accept Christ. They are not Born Again but they may still serve God's people.
The Greek word for 'nations' ('ethnos') is also translated as 'pagan' or 'gentile'.
While the Father has servants in his house who are not His sons, there are people in the world who are neither God's sons and certainly do not serve the Father.
When the younger son turned away from the Father and went into the world, the Father considered him 'lost' and 'dead' ("for he was lost but now is found, he was dead but now he is alive").
The sons of the Father may, therefore, be dead or alive. Those who are not sons of the Father may still serve the father or they may be lost in the World.
In this sense, this parable has many similarities to the Parable of the Net.
Likewise, in the last days, whether we are sons or pagans,
we must refuse the mark of the Beast