[Sermon] ‘Our Amazing Gracious Father’ | Parable of the Lost Son (Luke 15:11-32)

The following is the audio and text from a sermon preached on Father’s Day 2018 (6.17.18) at First Baptist Church of New Market in Piscataway, NJ. I was told that typical sermons at FBCNM were usually around 15-20 minutes. Thus, this message is considerably shorter than my first and second sermons on Psalm 1.

I hope to post slides from an upcoming Bible Study lesson i plan to teach on this beloved parable, as well (as I did for Psalm 1). [Update: see the Powerpoint presentation for the Bible Study lesson on this passage here].

For navigation/skimming purposes please see the hyperlinked outline here. For references, which are footnoted throughout the text, please see the bibliography here.

[Update 6.21.18: The YouTube video was flagged and taken down for some reason. So, I have uploaded the audio to a podcast service called Anchor]


Good morning brothers and sisters. On this Father’s Day, I thank God for the opportunity to share with you about our Amazing, Gracious Father. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer (Ps 19:14).

Entitled Children

I am Danny Scotton Jr. and I bring you greetings from Alpha Baptist Church in Willingboro, NJ where Pastor Danny Scotton Sr. has served for the past 15 years. Pastor Scotton has also served as my father for the past 30 years. I’m no parent, but when I was a kid, I used to think that being a parent was basically about service.

I thought my parent’s job was to serve me, to give me whatever I wanted, to make my life easier, to help me follow my dreams.  Seems that, when it comes to parents, many children may have a certain sense of entitlement.

For example, when I was in high school, I was one of the leaders of the student government. One of the perks of the position included one of the best parking spots in the student lot.[1] In my 17-year-old mind, this was a very, very big deal. The only problem was: I didn’t have a car.

My entire senior year, my spot was empty. While it seemed like all of my other classmates were driving to school in the cars their parents bought them, I was one of the only seniors still riding the bus. And, you know, that wasn’t too “cool.”[2]

So, as you can imagine, I wasn’t too happy with my parents. In my mind, they were supposed to buy me a car. When I would ask, “Mom, Dad, can I please have a car?” They would respond with that immortal question: “Do you have any car money?

And I’m like, “No, but I do my all my work in school, I don’t get into any trouble, I go to church every week…” And they’re like, “And? That’s what you’re supposed to do! Those are the rules. Following the rules doesn’t earn you a car.[3]

Entitled Son

Let’s just say that they got rid of my sense of entitlement real quick. But, as we look at this familiar parable this morning, we find that the younger son seems to have a certain sense of entitlement. He says, “Father, give me my share of the estate.” (Lk 15:11).

Now as you may recall, under Jewish law, the firstborn would receive twice as much of the inheritance as the other children. And, since the father had two sons, the older would receive two thirds while the younger would receive one third (Dt. 21:17).[4]

At first glance, it may look like the son is only asking for what is rightfully his.[5] The issue is that he asks for his inheritance while his father is still living – and, during this ancient time, this was “unheard of”… he was essentially saying to his dad, “I wish you were already dead.”[6]

That sounds bad even today, but back then it was even more outrageous. For they lived in a culture that stressed obeying and honoring one’s parents.[7] So, according to scholars, the son’s request was basically a “certified public statement that he no longer wishe[d] to live within or [even] be identified by the family.”[8] He was rejecting his own flesh and blood.[9] This was an offense that was virtually unforgivable.[10]

Questionable Parenting?

Now, in this ancient Jewish context, sons who violated the Fifth Commandment [Ex 20:12], failing to honor their father and mother, could have be beaten or worse (Dt 21:18-21).[11] But what does the father do? He gives the share to his son (Lk 15:12)– who may have been as young as 17.[12] How many of us would sell a third of all we own and give it to a teenager?[13] I don’t know about you, but, at first glance, this doesn’t seem like it makes much sense.

No Sense to No Cents

Then we read that the young son acts like he got no sense – and he ends up with no cents. He squanders all the money he had in reckless, “wild living” (Lk 15:13)[14] To make matters worse, he does so in a “distant country” (a.k.a. a country of Gentiles)[15] far away from his father.[16]

He had money, he had independence, he had no parents or to tell him what he could or could not do… Is this not the young American dream? To be able to live however we want? “Blowin’ money fast.” “You only live once.” “If you got it, flaunt it.” Follow your dreams. Do what makes you happy.

But how many times are we reminded that the people who have all the things that we want – the money, the cars, the clothes, the fame – how many times are we tragically reminded that these people are often not actually happy. Many times, reaching a dream isn’t as fulfilling as one thought it was going to be. All that glitters ain’t gold.

The young son learns this lesson the hard way. Not only does he lose all of his gold, there was also famine in the land (Lk 15:14). Think of it like a recession. People are out of work. No good jobs are hiring. And people aren’t too willing to make donations (Lk 15:17). He has to stoop so low, that works for a Gentile, who has him take care of his pigs.

Pigs and Rats

Now, for me, personally, I don’t have much against pigs. I mean I know they’re not the cutest animals, but I gotta be honest with you: I like me some ribs. I like pork chops. I like ham. And I love me some bacon.

However, the Jews – even to this day – don’t want nothin’ to do with no pig. According to one saying by Jewish rabbis, “Cursed be the man who would breed swine’ (Baba Kamma 82b).”[17] And, of course, back then, pigs were considered unclean (Lev 11:7 cf. Dt. 14:8).[18]

Part of the function of the food laws was to keep the Jews separate from other nations – the Gentiles. But now, this young son has squandered his father’s money in a Gentile country, began to identify and live as a Gentile,[19] and is now doing a job only a Gentile would do. And, he’s earning so little money that he craves to eat “pig-food.”[20] To any ancient Jew, this would be utterly disgusting.

One day I woke up and heard a noise in the kitchen of my old apartment. When I went to investigate, I saw this rat just going to town on a loaf of bread. He had climbed up on the kitchen counter, chewed through the plastic, and he was just having himself a feast.

Now, I like to think I’m a pretty brave guy… I don’t scare too easily. But when I tell you I screamed like a cartoon character… I was not proud of myself. I mean, does anyone here like rats or mice or any kind of rodent? Seems to me that most of us would consider such animals utterly disgusting.

     The way we think about rats is probably similar to how the Jews thought about pigs. My point is that the young son had hit rock bottom. He started off as the son of a wealthy landowner and now he was by himself, longing to eat the equivalent of rat food. You know, it’s been said that, we often don’t look up at God, until we are on our backs.

No Cents to New Sense

After the young son hits rock bottom, as we read in verse 17 (Lk 15:17), he comes to his senses. He says, Man, my father’s servants are living better than this. I’ll just go back and say I’ll work for my Dad (Lk 15:17-20). So, he rehearses his lines in advance:[21] “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants” (Lk 15:18-20).

Now, back in the day, the Jews did not dare speak the name of God. Ever wonder why in the Old Testament when it says “The LORD“LORD” is in all caps [e.g., Ps 23:1]. This refers to the name of God that they felt was too holy to say out loud.[“The Tetragrammaton YHWH, the LORD, or Yahweh, the personal name of God and [H]is most frequent designation in Scripture…”1 “Jehovah” is a more popular but less accurate rendering of this Name].

So, the Jews would find other ways to more politely refer to God, without saying God’s name.[22] So, when he says, “I have sinned against heaven,” he is basically admitting that he sinned against God (cf. other “circumlocutions” in Mt 15:7, 10).[23]

No Dignity, No Doubt

Now this young son, who has publicly shamed and humiliated his father, essentially wishing he were dead, starts to return home. But while he was still a “long way off” (Lk 15:20), his father runs to him, throws his arms around his neck, and kisses him (Lk 15:20).

To us, this might sound like an appropriate response for a worried father. But, to ancient Jewish ears, they would have said, “What? He ran? Really?” We have to understand that back then, older, wealthy men did not run.[24]

Moreover, he runs while his son is still off in the distance, which is the same Greek word (μακρός | makros) used to describe the distant country.[25] So, he must’ve had to run through the village publicly,[26] – in front of all the neighbors who knew all about how the son had shamed him.[27] And, we know how neighbors can talk.

Not to mention, because of how they dressed back in the day, in order to sprint, the father would have had to hike up his skirt.[28] All in all, this entire scene was very, very undignified. But it also would’ve sounded very, very familiar.

Name That Tune

If I told a story and said someone “huffed and puffed and tried to blow my house down,” many would recognize that vocabulary. Sounds like the Big Bad Wolf from the story of the Three Little Pigs, right? Similarly, when Jews heard of someone running to someone, throwing their arms around their neck and kissing them, it would’ve sounded like something they’ve heard before.[29]

In the book of Genesis, we may recall that Jacob had cheated his older brother Esau out of his inheritance[30] – and his father’s blessing (see Gen 27:35-36). As a result, Esau vowed to kill Jacob (Gen 27:41). Afterwards, Jacob is wisely encouraged to leave town (see Gen 28:5).

But, later in the book of Genesis, we read that Jacob goes to meet his brother, Esau – bowing to him seven times (Gen 33:3). Genesis 33:4 tells us that “… Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him…”[NIV] As scholars note, ancient Jews would have recognized this language – and understood the parallel.

Welcome Home Party

In the parable, before the son even can even complete his confession, his compassionate father tells his servants to bring the best robe, a ring, and some sandals. The robe and the ring were signs of honor and authority.[31]

Sandals, back then, were luxury items that were never worn by servants. In that culture, going barefoot was a sign of humiliation.[32] So, even though the son was going to say, “treat me like one of your servants [Lk 15:18-19],” his father says, “Unnh, unnh. I will do no such thing. No matter what you’ve done, you are still my son.”[33]

“And not only that, tonight, you are the esteemed guest of honor.” For, ancient Jews rarely ate meat. To kill and serve a fattened calf was reserved for only the most special of occasions.[34] Also, a fattened calf would have been big enough to feed an entire village. This was going to be a huge celebration.[35] As young folks would say, this party was about to be lit.

Party Pooper

But, of course, not everyone was in a partying mood. We all know that in this well-known story, the older son is the bad guy. Everyone else is about to eat and drink and be merry, and he’s mad.

Now, did anyone see Black Panther? In the movie, we all know that Killmonger is supposed to be the bad guy. But, I mean, he has a legitimate beef with Wakanda, and he follows their own rules to try to take over. All things considered, I can kind of see where he’s coming from.

Similarly, I think many of us can relate to the older son: Wait, my stupid little brother asks for his inheritance while my father is still alive, goes to a Gentile country, and spends all his money on his own pleasures, and now, when he comes home broke and says, “I’m sorry,” I’m supposed to join the whole town and celebrate? After I’ve been working here in the fields this whole time and no one thought to throw me a party? He doesn’t deserve a big party; he deserves a big beating! I don’t know about you, but all things considered, I can kind of see where he’s coming from.

Do we have any older siblings here today? Anyone with younger brothers or sisters? Personally, I’m the oldest of two boys so I’m a little biased. But, is it just me, or does it seem like our little sisters and brothers can get away with almost anything?[36]

I think I can feel the older son’s pain. Because, I think that the younger son is not getting what he deserves. He doesn’t deserve this treatment. Because of all of the things he has done, one could say he deserves to starve to death. To ancient Jews, this parable is ridiculous. It’s incredible. It’s… amazing.

Lots of Lost and Found

If we can zoom out for just a second. We read in the beginning of chapter 15 (Luke 15) that Jesus is eating with tax collectors (who were hated back then) and sinners. Now, you didn’t just break bread with just anybody back then. Sharing a meal with someone signified a certain level of intimacy and acceptance.[37] So, understandably, the Pharisees are muttering to themselves, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them” (Lk 15:1-2).

So, what does Jesus do? He sees their comments as a teachable moment. He tells three parables back-to-back-to-back: The Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, and the Lost Son.[38]

In the first parable, a shepherd leaves ninety-nine sheep to go out a find one which had gone astray (Lk 15:3-7). In the second parable, a woman lights a lamp and diligently searches her house until she finds one of her ten coins (Lk 15:8-10). In the third parable, a father runs out to meet one of his two sons (Lk 15:20). We can see the progression of the percentages: 1 out of 100, 1 out of 10, 1 out of 2.[39] And, in each parable, there is rejoicing when what was lost is found (Lk 15:7, 10, 15:22).[40]

In verse 7 [Lk 15:7] , Jesus says “…there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” In verse 10 [Lk 15:10], Jesus says, “…there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” And, in the third parable, we have a compassionate and gracious father, who rejoices over his son who “comes to his senses” – which an expression for saying that he repents.[41]

So, given what we read in the first two parables, we can see how the father represents our Amazing, Gracious God.[42] And, we can also see how the young son represents a sinner who has gone their own way, but then repents and turns back to their Heavenly Father – similar to the sinners who were sitting at the table listening to Jesus. But whom does the older son represent?

You Mad, Bro?

The older son likely represents the Pharisees and the scribes (cf. Lk 15:1-2).[43] Many of them were probably self-righteous[44] like the older son who says, “Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends” (Lk 15:29). Notice how this celebration does not include the father.[45]

The older son is upset even though his brother has returned “safe and sound” (Lk 15:27) – a translation of an expression that indicated a rehabilitated, restored, reconciled relationship.[46] He is so mad that he refuses to go inside or even address his dad as “Father.” In that culture, both of these would have been (quote) “grievous insult[s] to the father’s dignity.”[47]

As the parable ends, however, the Amazing, Gracious Father stresses to his older son that it was necessary to celebrate, because his brother was dead (to his family) but now is alive; he once was lost but now is found (Lk 15:24, 32). And then the story ends.


Now we don’t know if the older son comes to his senses or not. Jesus leaves it open-ended. This is likely because he has told these three parables to invite the Pharisees and scribes to the table – to the table with the tax collectors and sinners.[48]

He is basically saying, “God and the angels are rejoicing over these sinners who have repented. Why aren’t you?[49] “Are you going to continue to be self-righteous, and continue to separate yourself from your Father and your spiritual family, or are you going to grab a piece of this chicken?”[50]

So, on one level, Jesus is responding to his critics with an invitation. Hey, we got music, we got dancing (Lk 15:25), we got all the food you can eat. Would you like a seat at the table? And this invitation still stands for both the self-righteous and the self-seeking sinners even today.

The Selfish Way of Sin

It’s been said that, at its essence, sin is a self-separation from God.[51] It is knowing God’s way but saying “no” to God’s way.[52] Instead of saying “thy will be done” (Mt 6:10) it is saying “my will be done.”

     No, God. I’m going to go my own way. I’m going to follow my own dreams. I’m going to pursue my own passions. I’m going to do what makes me happy. This is the sinful way of self.

C.S. Lewis once wrote, “Human history…[is] the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.”[53] And, as the young son found out, and as Proverbs 14:12 reminds us: “there is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death” (cf. Psalm 1).

Even though they might want to do whatever they want, a child left to their own devices can do themselves grave harm. And, I’m sure most parents know that what their children want is not always what’s best.

Brothers and sisters, what is best for us is to be in right relationship with our Heavenly Father. James reminds us that every good and perfect gift comes from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights…” (Jas 1:17). If God is the Source of all that brings lasting happiness and joy, why do we try to find joy and lasting happiness away from God? By going our own way? By going astray?

The Trinity Of Lost Parables

Many of us may have gone astray. I know I did. Many of us may have been like lost sheep. But the Good News is that Jesus says He is the Good Shepherd (Jn 10:11). Later in Lk 19:10 we find that Jesus says that He “came to seek and to save the lost.”[54] To seek and save the lost. The shepherd in the first parable demonstrates the ministry of God, the Son.[55]

Also, in both the Old and New Testaments, the people of God are referred to (metaphorically) as the Lord’s bride (Is. 54:5; Ezk. 16:8; Eph. 5:23ff.).[56] Also metaphorically, according to scholars, “as a community through which the Spirit reveals God’s truth [the people of God are] also a light.”[57]

Jesus says that His followers are the light of the world (Mt 5:14 cf. Php 2:15). And, in the Book of Revelation, scholars note that “the symbols of woman and light are both used to depict the people of God” (Rev. 1:20; 4:5; 12:1–17; 19:7ff.; 21:9ff.).[58]

Now, if the woman and the light in the parable of the Lost Coin [Lk 15:8-10] are intended to have a similar meaning, then what we may have is what some scholars believe to be a metaphor for the “Spirit of God lighting the church’s way as she sets about the divine work of seeking the lost.”[59]

The Lost Coin, a lifeless object, can represent sinners who are spiritually dead (Eph 2:1, Col 2:13).[60] And, as we know, part of the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to give us new life (Jn 3:3-8, Rom 8:11, etc.), that we may be born again. Thus, some scholars believe that the second parable may demonstrate the ministry of God, the Holy Spirit.

So, in these three parables, we may see how the Son seeks and saves the Lost Sheep, how the Holy Spirit – acting through the Church – gives new life to those us who are spiritually dead, and how our Amazing, Heavenly Father runs out to embrace us when we repent – after we stop going our way and turn back to God.

Every step of the way, our Triune God is working to bring us back, and throw us a Heavenly Welcome Home Party.


After Esau throws his arms around Jacob’s neck and kisses him, Jacob says, “For to see your face is like seeing the face of God” (Gen 33:10). In these parables, we can see the grace of God.[61]

God’s grace is so Amazing because we don’t deserve it (Rom 6:23, Eph 2:8-8). We are not worthy. We have all sinned and separated ourselves from God (Rom 3:23). And we cannot earn our reconciliation back to God simply through following the rules (just like I couldn’t earn a car from my parents simply by doing what I was supposed to be doing in the first place.

We need grace – unmerited, undeserved favor. We need grace that says, no matter what you have done, no matter how far you have fallen, no matter how many mistakes you have made, if you turn back to your Heavenly Father, He is not only waiting for you, He will run out to greet you, to throw His arms around you, and to kiss you tenderly as His child.

That is Amazing Grace. That is our Amazing, Gracious Father. May Our Father bless you and keep you all.


The invitation of Jesus still stands. To anyone who has gone their own way but now wants to return back to their Amazing, Gracious Father through Jesus Christ: He’s waiting for you. This invitation for you.

To anyone who, like me, was born and raised in the church, but, like me, went astray, your Amazing, Gracious Father is waiting for you. This invitation is for you.

To anyone who is not necessarily lost but is hoping to find a new church home – a church family where they can be nourished and encouraged — a family ultimately led by our Amazing, Gracious Father, this invitation is for you. The invitation is for all.


  1. Introduction
  2. Entitled Children
  3. Entitled Son
  4. Questionable Parenting
  5. No Sense to No Cents
  6. Pigs and Rats
  7. No Cents to New Sense
  8. No Dignity, No Doubt
  9. Name That Tune
  10. Welcome Home Party
  11. Party Pooper
  12. Lots of Lost and Found 
  13. You Mad, Bro?
  14. RSVP?
  15. The Selfish Way of Sin
  16. The Trinity of Lost Parables
  17. Conclusion
  18. Invitation
  19. Bibliography


Edwards, James R. The Gospel according to Luke. Edited by D. A. Carson. The Pillar New Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.; Nottingham, England: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; Apollos, 2015.

Green, Joel B. The Gospel of Luke. The New International Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1997.

Keener, Craig S. The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993.

Kreeft, Peter, and Ronald K. Tacelli. Handbook of Christian Apologetics: Hundreds of Answers to Crucial Questions. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1994.

Lewis, C. S. Mere Christianity (C.S. Lewis Signature Classics). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition

Marshall, I. Howard. The Gospel of Luke: A Commentary on the Greek Text. New International Greek Testament Commentary. Exeter: Paternoster Press, 1978.

Marshall, I. Howard. “Luke.” In New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, edited by D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer, and G. J. Wenham, 4th ed., 978–1020. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994.

Morris, Leon. Luke: An Introduction and Commentary. Vol. 3. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988.

Schreiner, Thomas R. “Luke.” In Evangelical Commentary on the Bible, 3:799–839. Baker Reference Library. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1995.

Stein, Robert H. Luke. Vol. 24. The New American Commentary. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992.

Wilcock, Michael. The Savior of the World: The Message of Luke’s Gospel. The Bible Speaks Today. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1979.

[1] When it was raining or snowing, blazing hot or freezing cold, I could rest easy knowing that I had a very short walk from the lot to the front door.

[2] And, it didn’t help that everyone kept asking me if they could park in my spot!

[3] Should the government write checks to all the people that don’t break the law?

[4] Leon Morris, Luke: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 3, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 257–258. Cf. Num 27:8-11; 36:7-9 Joel B. Green, The Gospel of Luke, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1997), 580.

[5] “Usually such a division of the inheritance took place upon the death of the father, but it could occur earlier. Sirach 33:19–23, however, advises against the latter.” Robert H. Stein, Luke, vol. 24, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 405.

[6] Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), Lk 15:11–12.

[7] Keener Lk 15:11-12

[8] James R. Edwards, The Gospel according to Luke, ed. D. A. Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.; Nottingham, England: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; Apollos, 2015), 438.

[9] “…his request clearly signifies his rejection of his family.” Green, 580.

[10] Edwards, 438.

[11] Keener, Lk 15:11-12

[12] “[The son] may well have been about 17 years or more, since the story implies that he was unmarried (marriage took place normally at about 18–20 years, but by no means universally).” I. Howard Marshall, The Gospel of Luke: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Exeter: Paternoster Press, 1978), 607. Cf. Keener says no older than 18. Keener, 15:13. A

[13] “The younger son, however, turned his share into cash and departed to enjoy the proceeds away from home and parental control.” I. Howard Marshall, “Luke,” in New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, ed. D. A. Carson et al., 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), 1005.

[14] “…‘he squandered his wealth in the wildest extravagance’.” Morris, 258. Stein, 405.

[15] Green, 580.

[16] “…the son’s receding footsteps to a far country quickly convert his inner alienation to spatial distance from the father.”Edwards, 439.

[17] Morris, 258.

[18] Morris, 258. Cf. “…Deut 14:8; cf. 1 Macc 1:47). This part of the parable gives a poignant picture of a Jewish man on “skid row.” Stein, 405.

[19] Edwards, 440.

[20] Stein, 405.

[21] Has anyone had trouble with someone, and you had confront them, so you prepared a speech in advance?

[22] This is called a circumlocution. This is probably why Luke, who was probably a Gentile writes about the kingdom of God while Matthew, a Jew, writes of the kingdom of Heaven (Mt 5:3 cf. Lk 6:20).

[23] “Indeed, the use of “heaven” as a circumlocution for “God.” Green, 582. “In so doing he above all has sinned against God who gave this, the Fifth, Commandment (Exod 20:12).” Stein, 406.

[24] Stein, 406.

[25] Edwards, 442.

[26] Green, 583.

[27] Does anyone have neighbors that talk about people behind their back?

[28] Given the normal garb, the father would have to pull up his skirt to run. Keener, Lk 15:20.

[29] Edwards, 442.

[30] (a.k.a. birthright).

[31] Morris, 260. Stein, 407.

[32] Edwards, 443.

[33] Keener, Lk 15:12-14.

[34] “Meat was not often eaten in Palestinian culture, so this surely indicated a festive occasion.” Thomas R. Schreiner, “Luke,” in Evangelical Commentary on the Bible, vol. 3, Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1995), 827.

[35] Keener, Lk 15:23

[36] Sometimes my brother would act like a spoiled little brat.

[37] Keener, Lk 15:2

[38] “The parables are connected by theme (the joy of the lost being found) and by key words (“lost” and “found,” [Lk 15:6, 9, 24, 32]; “rejoice” and “celebrate,” [Lk 15:6, 9, 24, 32]). Together the three parables form a tightly knit unit with a single, strongly Lukan theme—God’s love for outcasts and sinners.” Stein, 400.

[39] “The relative value of the lost item increases in each parable: one out of one hundred, one out of ten and finally (15:11) one out of two.” Keener, 15:8-10

[40] Edwards, 431.

[41] “This is a Hebrew/Aramaic expression for ‘repented.’” Stein, 406. “The Greek expression behind “came to his senses,” eis heauton, is a translation of the Hebrew bilebo, meaning “in his heart.” Luke uses this phrase eleven times—all in Special Luke—to signify   p 441  inner ruminations that result in resolutions to act.” Edwards, 440-441 + Footnote “ [Lk 1:29](D); [Lk 7:39]; [Lk 11:38](D); [Lk 12:17, 32](D); [Lk 16:3]; [Lk 18:4]; similarly pros heauton ([Lk 18:11]), eis heauton/heautous ([Lk 7:30]; [Lk 15:17]); eph’ heautois ([Lk 18:9]). Edwards, 441. “shades of repentance are clearly evident” Green, 581.

[42] “God is the Father ‘from whom all fatherhood, earthly or heavenly, derives its name” (Eph 3:15) Michael Wilcock, The Savior of the World: The Message of Luke’s Gospel, The Bible Speaks Today (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1979), 151. Morris, 254. Marshall, NBC, 1005. Green, 586, “It is worth recalling that a primary image of God in the Lukan travel narrative has been God as Father (e.g., [Lk 11:1–13; 12:22–34]), a portrait continued in this parable,” Green, 579.

[43] Schreiner, 827.

[44] Morris, 261. Edwards, 442.

[45] Edwards, 445.

[46] “This last expression (Gk. hygiainein) carries both physical and social ramifications: the younger son is in good health, and he has been rehabilitated in the family,” Edwards, 445. “More is implied than his physical health. In the picture part of the parable this would refer to his moral and spiritual health; but in the reality part, to his having received salvation.” Stein, 407.

[47] “…and could have warranted a beating.” Keener, Lk 15:25-28.

[48] Schreiner, 827. Green, 586.

[49] “For the elder brother represents the Pharisees and all like them, and the parable is an appeal to them to change their mind about the outcasts.” Marshall, NBC, 1005.

[50] Cf. “Why won’t you enter into this joy?” Stein, 401.

[51] “Sin does not mean just disobeying a law. That is only its formula. Sin means separating yourself from God, knowing God’s will and yet “no-ing” it instead of “yes-ing” it.” Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli, Handbook of Christian Apologetics: Hundreds of Answers to Crucial Questions (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1994), 303.

[52] Kreeft and Tacelli, 303.

[53] Lewis, C. S.. Mere Christianity (C.S. Lewis Signature Classics) (p. 23). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition

[54] Edwards, 432.

[55] Edwards, 432. Cf. Is 40:11 (“He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms…,” NIV); Ezekiel 34 (esp. Eze 34:15 “I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign LORD,” NIV); cf. Ps 23:1. Wilcock, 150.

[56] Wilcock, 152.

[57] Wilcock, 152.

[58] Wilcock, 152.

[59] Wilcock, 152.

[60] Wilcock, 152.

[61] Edwards, 443.


  1. J. Barton Payne, “484 הָוָה,” ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 210.
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