Many believe it’s the greatest story Jesus ever told: the dramatic parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32). What can we learn from the beautiful reunion of a loving father and his wayward son?
Reconciliation depends on repentance (our part).
Though the word repentance is not found in the story, it is obvious that the Prodigal was truly penitent. Once he humbled his willful heart, he was ready to go home. His words, “I have sinned,” are not just appropriate, they are essential.
Reconciliation depends on grace (God’s part).
The Prodigal knew he was in no position to demand anything. Whatever his father might be willing to give him would be better than what he had, which was nothing.
Reconciliation calls for a celebration!
The father graciously granted him a royal welcome, complete with robe, ring, shoes, and a party! This is one of the best illustrations of grace in the Bible!
Reconciliation is horizontal as well as vertical.
The glum attitude of the elder brother casts a long shadow on the celebration. Not only was he unwilling to be reconciled to his brother, but he himself felt estranged from his own father. Self-righteousness is both ugly and self-defeating.
Why this story?
The main reason Jesus told this story was to help the Pharisees understand why He chose to spend time with those for whom they had no use (verses 1-3). Like the Prodigal, these sinners were coming home. Like the elder brother, the Pharisees could not understand God’s heart for reconciliation.
When God receives a sinner home, so should we!
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/
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