The Prodigal Son

By Frank Jamerson


A. The series of parables (Luke 15) was given to answer the criticism of Jesus for eating with sinners (vv. 1,2).

B. The prodigal (wasteful) son is better known, but the elder son represented the cold-hearted self-righteousness

of the scribes and Pharisees.


A. His departure from home (vv. 11-13).

1. He could not wait until his father died; he must have his part now!

2. Though the father was not obligated to do so, he gave him what he wanted.

3. There must have been a long period of conflict at home. It reached the point that the boy wanted to get away, and the father allowed it.

B. The pleasure in sin.

1. When he gets away from home, he can do as he pleases without being corrected. (He could “enjoy” himself, Heb. 11:24,25.)

2. He wanted to be his own master – independent of restraints of “Where have you been? With whom? What did you do?”

3. That is what sin is! It is rejection of God’s restraints and self-deification (Gen. 3).

4. He was a son in name, but not in heart. The atmosphere had become disagreeable to him, and the further he could get away – the better! (v. 13)

5. Many young people have the same desires today but go where they may, they will never find another mother and father! (The prodigal did not.)

6. The pathos of the story is “a certain man had two sons” – not a king had two servants, Or a master had two slaves. (Sin is not simply disobedience to a master, or treason to a king, but ingratitude toward a Father [cf. 2 Sam. 15:6; 18:29-33; Isa. 1:2].)

C. The Ruin of Sin (vv. 13-17).

1. The waste of sin (v. 13).

a. Waste means “to scatter abroad, is used metaphorically of squandering property, Luke 15:13; 16:1” (W.E. Vine).

b. Think of the waste in drugs, alcohol, illicit sex, stealing, etc. Men of great ability have squandered their opportunities because of sin.

2. The cost of sin (v. 14).

a. It cost him everything he had! There is always a price to be paid (cf. Gal. 6:7; Isa. 59:1-2; Jas. 4:4).

b. Sin begins as a pleasant companion, but ends a terrible task-master.

3. The cruelty of sin (vv. 14b-16).

a. He “began to be in want.” He had never been in that situation.

b. He “joined himself” – indicates he “glued himself” to a citizen of the country who did not want him. The ungodly will help you sin, but they are not interested in sharing your troubles.

c. Prov. 13:15.

4. The insanity of sin (v. 17).

a. He “came to himself” – indicates he was not himself.

b. Rebellion is madness.

D. The Return Home:

1. He resolved (v. 18).

a. As he sat and thought about home, he kept thinking “I can see the end of the tunnel,” or “something will turn up,” but it didn’t. He had the choice between “mother’s cooking” and “hogs’ feed.”

b. His resolution was not: “I’ll wait until I am a little more respectable,” or “I’ll see how my family feels about me.” He went as he was!

2. He returned (v. 20).

a. He made an unreserved confession – not “I’ve been a little wild, but every one sins,” “I just got in the wrong crowd for a while,” but “I have sinned. “

b. His sin was “against heaven” (v. 18), as well as against his family (cf. Psa. 51).

3. He was received (vv. 22-24).

a. As he draws near home, we can better imagine his thoughts than describe them! The place had not changed much, but what a difference in him!

b. Father was not sitting on the front porch of a fenced house with gate locked – waiting to be begged to receive his son. He was looking for him!

c. The feast indicates the joy of a forgiving God over a forgiven man, and the joy of a forgiven man in a forgiving God.

d. The attire was not that of a slave, but a freeman. (The slavish attitude melted in the arms of a loving father.)


A. The father did not throw his arms around him while he was in the pig pen, nor while he was in the arms of a harlot.

B. The elder brother’s attitude in v. 30 (“you are eating with this sinner”) is nearly the words of verse 2! (He had not learned how to relate to family; yet his father still loved him.)

C. Any life not used in serving God is wasted.

Guardian of Truth XXXI: 14, p. 435
July 16, 1987