Luke 15:11-32 speaks about a father and his two sons.
Here Jesus was using the symbolism in this story to express the mercy of God, as symbolized by the father.
We can also draw lessons from the attitude of both sons towards the Father.
11 And he said, A certain man had two sons:
12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.
13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.
14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land;
and he began to be in want.
15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country;
and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat:
and no man gave unto him.
17 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father,
I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,
19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.
20 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.
21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.
22 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:
23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:
24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.
And they began to be merry.
25 Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house,
he heard musick and dancing.
26 And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant.
27 And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.
28 And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him.
29 And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither
transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid,
that I might make merry with my friends:
30 But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.
31 And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.
32 It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.
From the story, after the younger son asked of his share of the inheritance, in verse 12 it was clearly stated that the inheritance was divided between both sons.
This means that both sons had rights over his portion of the inheritance.
But the younger son decided to leave the country of his Father into a far country.
By leaving the presence of the father, the younger son in this story was demonstrating the fact he did not want to be under the authority, guide and counsel of the father.
This attitude is considered rebellious and I do think this was the sin he committed. Unlike the younger son, the elder son remained in the presence of the Father, and as he stated in verse 21, he was obedient and loyal to the father.
When the younger spent all his inheritance and repented of his act, he demonstrated humility by his decision to go back to his father to ask for forgiveness and to entreat his mercy.
This act also indicated that he knew his father to be merciful and compassionate.
From the story, as he returned back, the Bible recorded in verse 20 of that chapter that the Father saw him when he was far off (this reminds me of Jesus' statement to Nathaniel in John 1:48 - when thou wast under the fig tree I saw thee), this act of the Father showed that he has been in expectation of the son's return and knew for sure the effect of his son's decision to leave his country.
But much more than the younger son expected, the father did by restoring him to his full rights and privileges, this is symbolized by the ring, the rope and shoe he received.
Also, the father's act of sacrificing the fattest calf shows the father value‘s his son more than his goods - the inheritance the son demanded.
Also, despite the piousness demonstrated by the eldest son, his response in verse 25-30 when his brother came back showed he lacked relevant knowledge of his inheritance (his portion of his goods) and who his father was (merciful).
He saw his inheritance only as his father's own and not his, but in verse 12 it was clearly stated that the inheritance was divided between them (himself and the younger).
He was waiting for the father to give himsomething that was ready his.
The father's response in verse 31 confirms this observation and served to enlighten the elder son.
In conclusion, Jesus was using this story to describe the nature of God as indicated by the father as one who value’s and love’s His children despite our imperfections.
Though this story was said to the Jewish audience, it is still applicable to us Christians now as the nature of God has not and will not change.
God is always merciful and compassionate to receive us back when we truly repent.
And from the elder son's story, we can learn that we have to pursue relevant knowledge of God and know our rights and privileges in Christ, so we can fully access our inheritance in Christ Jesus.
...it is still applicable
to us Christians now...
Daniel Ogbemudia Idehen.
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