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Luke 15:11-32 (New American Standard Bible)
11 And He said, “A man had two sons.
12 The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ So he divided his [a]wealth between them.
13 And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living.
14 Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished.
15 So he went and [b]hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
16 And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the [c]pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him.
17 But when he came to[d]his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger!
18 I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and [e]in your sight;
19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.”’
20 So he got up and came to [f]his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and [g]embraced him and kissed him.
21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
22 But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet;
23 and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate;
24 for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.
25 “Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing.
26 And he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things could be.
27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has received him back safe and sound.’
28 But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him.
29 But he answered and said to his father, ‘Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never [h]neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends;
30 but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your [i]wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.’
31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you [j]have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours.
32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and waslost and has been found.’”
• Typically, a son would receive his inheritance at the time of his father's death. The fact that the younger brother instigated the early division of the family estate showed a rebellious and proud disregard for his father's authority, not to mention a selfish and immature attitude.
• Pigs were unclean animals. Jews were not even allowed to touch pigs. When the son took a job feeding pigs, even longing for their food to fill his belly, it reveals that he had fallen as low as he could possibly go. This son represents a person living in rebellion to God. Sometimes we have to hit rock-bottom before we come to our senses and recognize our sin.
• The father is a picture of the Heavenly Father. God waits patiently, with loving compassion to restore us when we return to him with humble hearts. He offers us everything in his kingdom, restoring full relationship with joyful celebration. He doesn't even dwell on our past waywardness.
• Reading from the beginning of chapter 15, we see that the older son is clearly a picture of the pharisees. In their self-righteousness, they have forgotten to rejoice when a sinner returns to God. Bitterness and resentment keeps the older son from forgiving his younger brother. It blinds him to the treasure he freely enjoys through constant relationship with the father.
Who are you in this story? Are you a prodigal, a pharisee or a servant? Are you the rebellious son, lost and far from God? Are you the self-righteous pharisee, no longer capable of rejoicing when a sinner returns to God? Maybe you've hit rock-bottom, come to your senses and decided to run to God's open arms of compassion and mercy? Or are you one of the servants in the household, rejoicing with the father when a lost son finds his way home?
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