The Prodigal Son

By Gary Bagwell

Just imagine a young boy or girl being lost. Think of all the sleepless nights of the parents and the kinfolks. It is frightening isn’t it? Oh, but what a great jubilation when you find that child and he is all right. One can’t begin to imagine the thoughts, despair, concern of losing a child or the joy, happiness or elation of finding that child, unless he has experienced it for himself. I have friends who did experience this, so I can relate to it on a small scale. There are some lessons we can learn from the parable of the prodigal son – let us look at those.

The very first lesson I learn is that young people (teenagers) many times want their freedom. The attitude is, “I know what is best for me, so I want my own way. I want to have my freedom. Mom and dad, I no longer need you or want you telling me what to do. I am old enough now to make my own decisions.” Please notice in this parable though he wanted his freedom and he never needed his father anymore he asked his father for the portion of goods he had coming (money; the share of his estate). “I want my money (what is mine). I am leaving home for greener pastures.” That was the prodigal son’s first mistake. In Proverbs 1:8-9, Solomon said, “Heed the instruction of thy father and forsake not the law of thy mother. For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck.” The first lesson to be learned then is that young folks should listen to their parents!

The second lesson I learn from this parable is that parents are not always to blame when children go astray. There is nothing within this parable that places the blame on the Father. Another example of this is Samson’s parents. Manoah and his wife (as far as we know) brought Samson up right and yet he went into sin. Judges 13-16 tells us of Samson’s evil ways. When godly parents, those who fear the Lord, bring their children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord and still their children go astray, it is not the fault of the parents. Children have volition and even the right kind of teaching and training does not take this away.

The third lesson I see, is that sin is not as beautiful as it appears. The prodigal’s attitude was, “I am leaving home; I have to have my freedom.” But, one day he came to himself. After he had spent all his living and the famine came, he then realized for the first time what it meant to be in want, hungry and destitute. He had too much month left at the end of the money. He said, “My father has plenty, even the servants are taken care of and I perish with hunger.” Sin is expensive. “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23).

Fourthly, I see true forgiveness in this parable. The boy’s father was willing to forgive him even though this young boy had brought shame and reproach to the family name.

Notice verse 20 – “the father saw the son coming home yet a great way off. He had compassion on him, he ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.” The son made his confession to his father – how he had sinned against heaven and against his father and how he was no longer worthy to be called his son. “But the father said to his servants, bring forth the best robe and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand and shoes on his feet: and bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat and be merry: for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found. And, they began to be merry.” None of this ever would have happened if the prodigal son would have only listened to his father and heeded his advice.

The father in his parable is like God our Father who stands by at all times waiting to receive us if we have sinned and if we will confess our sins and then repent of them. He will pardon us and treat us as though we have never sinned – as he did his son in this parable.

In conclusion (a word of caution to the young people), make sure you “honor your father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth” (Eph. 6:2-3). Be friends with your parents, get to know them, love, them, respect them. If they are Christians, you have two of the most wonderful blessings God could have given you. Do not take them for granted and hurt them by doing things that would cause them heartache and grief. As you grow older and have your own family, you will realize what it means to be a parent and what a tremendous responsibility it is. Be grateful for godly parents; obey them and tell them you love them often. The prodigal son had to live with the mistakes he had made and the memories even though he had been forgiven. Be respectful to parents and heed their advice. God will bless you for it.

Guardian of Truth XXXII: 12, p. 363
June 16, 1988