The Father of the Prodigal Son

Johnie Edwards
Bloomington, Indiana

I have heard and read sermons on the prodigal son, the eldest son which stayed at home, but I do not believe I ever read or heard a lesson on the Father of the prodigal son. I believe there are some good lessons to be learned about this father as recorded in Luke 15:11-32.

(1) The Father Had a Heart of Generosity. "And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And be divided unto them his living" (Lk.15:12). Here this father gave his son the share of the estate even though he was not obligated to do so. To the older son he said, ". . . Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine" (Lk.15: 3 1). Generosity is a trait that many need to learn. God the Father has been generous with us in so many ways -- with his Son, his love and his blessings (Mt. 5:45; Acts 14:17; Eph. 1:3; Jn. 3:16; Acts 17:28).

(2) The father treated his son kindly. According to the story, the son made no accusations against his father as he was leaving. There is no indication of any harsh treatment involved in the son's leaving. There is not enough of kindness in this world. God is a Father of kindness and expects his children to have this trait. "And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you" (Eph. 4:32).

(3) The father was good to his servants. The fact that the father was good to his, servants can be seen in the willingness of the son to go back home as a hired servant. "And when be came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hanger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee. And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants" (Lk.15:17-19).

(4) The father recognized the free moral agency of man. The father knew that man is a free moral agent, so he did not force his son to stay or to return. God the Father made man that way. Joshua said, "And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the. Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord " (Josh. 24:15). God the Father, does not force man to obey or disobey.

(5) The father was watching and waiting for his boy to come home. "... But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him. . ." (Lk.15:20). Can't you just see the joy in the face of this father as he saw his lost boy coming back home? O the joy that the Heavenly Father must have when a lost soul comes home! "Likewise, I say unto you there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth" (Lk.15: 10).

(6) This father had compassion. "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" (Lk.15:20). Our God is a God of compassion. "But thou, 0 Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth" (Psa. 86:15).

(7) The father had a heart of forgiveness. When the lost son returned to his father's house and confessed, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son" (Lk.15:21), the father had a heart of forgiveness and said, "put the best robe on him", " put a ring on his hand," and "shoes on his feet," "kill the fatted calf," and "let us eat, and be merry" (Lk.15:23-24). The boy was restored to full sonship by his father. When God's children go astray and return on God's terms, they are restored to full sonship. The father was glad, for his son who had been lost is now found was dead but is now alive.

TRUTH MAGAZINE, XV: 7, pp. 6-7
December 17, 1970