Lost & Found | Luke 15:11-32 Sermon (Parable of the Prodigal Son) [Video, Text+]

It was a blessing to update and expand my previous sermon on the Lost Son(s!) and share a message at Alpha Baptist Church in Willingboro, NJ on Sunday August 4, 2019. Thanks be to God, drawing upon additional resources, I relished the opportunity to relay some additional insight.

Below, please find the sermon video, hyperlinked outline, footnoted sermon text (which includes the author’s translation (AT) in bolded italics), Greek text, and bibliography.

Update: See the corresponding Bible Study slideshow here.

Video

 

Outline

Preface

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).

“We’ve come this far by faith… leaning on the LORD. Trusting in His holy word; He’s never failed me yet. O… O… O… can’t turn around. We’ve come this far by faith.”

That’s a classic song. But I can’t honestly say that I could always sing those words truthfully. For on the sinful path I was on, I wasn’t walking by faithfulness; I was walking by foolishness.

Now I don’t want to bore you with my troubles. But, over the years, more and more, I got knocked off of my feet.1 But thanks be to our Amazing, Gracious God, He helped me to turn around and come to my senses. I was lost, but now I’m found.

Introduction

You ever lose something that you couldn’t find? Ever lose your keys? (Sung) Searched all over, couldn’t find my keys… I looked high and low, still couldn’t find my keys. I looked high and low… still couldn’t find my keys.2

And so you ask someone, “Hey, I lost my keys; can you help me find them?” And without fail, they’re going to give you the most basic advice of all-time: “Have you tried retracing your steps?

And I’m like (sarcastically), “Hmm, ‘have I tried retracing my steps’? Nope, hadn’t thought of that. I’ve just been out here walking in zigzags…” But when you find your keys, don’t you just feel a wave of relief and delight?

How much more do you think our Heavenly Father delights when one of His lost children is found? Scripture says there is rejoicing in Heaven over one sinner who repents (Lk 15:7, 10).

In this popular parable of Luke 15,[1] often called the Parable of the Prodigal or the Lost Son,[2] the emphasis is actually on the father.[3] And, depending on your response, the father demonstrates amazing grace, or amazing gullibility.

Body

Cents-less Sense of Entitlement

For I’m sure many parents might read this story and say, “What was this guy thinking? This is in-credible!” Has a child ever come to you with a certain air of entitlement? As if they’ve earned something that is yours to freely give? As if they deserve it?

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.[4] Now 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.”[5]

So, as you can imagine, I wasn’t too happy with my parents. This was injustice! They were violating my rights to a free car! Because, I thought I deserved it!

So, I’m like, “Mom, Dad, when am I going to get a car?” And, of course, they responded 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.[6]

Let’s just say that they got rid of my sense of entitlement real quick.

Senseless Request (Lk 15:11-12)

But, as we look at this parable, we find that the younger son seems to have a certain sense of entitlement. As we read in Luke 15, beginning at verse 11:

Then [Jesus] said, “A man had two sons.”[7] The younger [son] said to his father, “Father, give me the share of the estate that I have coming to me.” (Lk 15:11-12a, AT).

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).[8] At first glance, it may look like the son is only asking for what is rightfully his.[9]

The issue is that he asks for his inheritance while his father is still living[10] – and, during this ancient time, this was “unheard of”… he was essentially saying to his dad, “I wish you were already dead.”[11]

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.[12]

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.”[13] He was rejecting his own flesh and blood.[14] This was an offense that was virtually unforgivable.[15]

Now, in this first-century Jewish context, sons who violated the Fifth Commandment (Ex 20:12),[16] failing to honor their father and mother, could have be beaten or worse (Dt 21:18-21).[17]

But what does the father do? It says: So, the man divided his life’s assets[18] between them (Lk 15:12, AT). Believe it or not, he gives the share to his son who may have been as young as 17.[19]

How many of us would sell a third of all we own and give it to a teenager? What was he thinking? This is in-credible![20] I don’t know about you, but, at first glance, this doesn’t seem like it makes much sense.

No Sense To No Cents (Lk 15:13-17)

Then we read that the young son acts like he got no sense – and he ends up with no cents. Verse 13 says:

Then, not many days afterwards, he gathered everything together and the younger son journeyed into a distant country and there he squandered his estate by living recklessly, (Lk 15:13, AT).

The term translated “gathered together” (συνάγω | synagō) may imply that he liquidated all of his assets into cash.[21] He stops at a pawn shop, and then he wastes all the money he had in “wild living”.[22]

And, to make matters worse, he does so in a “distant country” – meaning a country of Gentiles[23]– far away from his father[24] and the strict Jewish laws.[25]

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?[26] To be able to live however we want?

We know the secular gospel: “Blowin’ money fast.” “You only live once.” “If you got it, flaunt it.” Follow your dreams. Do what makes you happy. Because you deserve it!

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, but after he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in need. (Lk 15:14, AT).

Think of a famine like a recession. People are out of work. No good jobs are hiring. And people aren’t too willing to make donations (Lk 15:16).

So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed pigs. (Lk 15:15, AT).

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 nothing to do with no pig. According to one saying by Jewish rabbis, “Cursed be the man who would breed swine’ (Baba Kamma 82b).”[27]

In the New Testament (the New Covenant) Jesus declares all foods as clean. But under the Old Covenant, pigs were considered unclean (Lev 11:7 cf. Dt. 14:8).[28]

Part of the function of the food laws was likely to keep the Jews separate from other nations – the Gentiles. But now, this young son squanders his father’s money in a Gentile country, starts living as a Gentile,[29] and is now doing a shameful job only a Gentile would do.[30]

And he would long to be filled with the pods which the pigs were eating, but no one would give him any. (Lk 15:16, AT).

He’s earning so little money that he craves to eat “pig-food.”[31] To any first-century Jew, this would be utterly disgusting.[32]

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? Doesn’t something about them just make our skin crawl? 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.[33] He started off as the son of a wealthy landowner and now he was by himself, longing to eat the equivalent of rat food.[34] He’s worse off than the pigs.[35]

You know, it’s been said that, we often don’t look up at God, until we are on our backs.3

After the young son hits rock bottom, he comes to his senses.[36] When he came to himself, he said, “How many of my father’s day laborers abound with food, and here I am losing my life[37] due to hunger!” (Lk 15:17, AT).

Day laborers were people who would be hired to work on a day-to-day basis.[38] They had more freedom than servants of a household, but they had less security.[39] They didn’t know for sure when their next paycheck was coming.

But the younger son realizes that his father’s hired hands are eating better than he is – they actually have more than enough. He’s working like a dog, longing to eat like a pig, but his father’s day workers could eat like a pig – and take home a doggy bag.[40]

Now Jesus could’ve ended the story right there. It could serve as a great cautionary tale.[41] Can you picture parents telling this story to their children: “And that’s why it’s always important to honor your father and your mother!”

Jesus’ listeners might’ve been thinking, “See, serves him right! He got what he deserved!” As they say, when you play stupid games, you win stupid prizes.[42]

No Cents to New Sense, Now Celebrate (Lk 15:18-24)

You ever have to work up the courage to tell somebody something, so you rehearse your lines in advance? Doesn’t always go according to plan does it? Well, the son rehearses his lines in advance:[43]

He says, “I will get up and go to my father and I will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against Heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your day laborers.’” (Lk 15:18-19, AT).

Now, back in the day, the Jews did not dare speak the name of God. The third commandment says, “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name” (Ex 20:7, NIV).

So to avoid taking the LORD’s name in vain, they just didn’t say the Name at all. Ever wonder why in the Old Testament when it says “The LORD” “LORD” is in all capital letters? This refers to the name of God that they felt was too holy to say out loud.

So, the Jews would find other ways to more politely refer to God, without saying God’s Name.[44] So, when he says, “I have sinned against heaven,” he is basically admitting that he sinned against God (cf. other “circumlocutions” in Mt 5:7, 10).[45] For he has broken the Fifth Commandment (cf. Ex 20:12).[46]

So, he got up and came to his father. But when he was still a far distance away, his father saw him and was deeply moved with compassion.[47] [His father] ran and threw his arms around his neck[48] and kissed him. (Lk 15:20, AT cf. Gen 29:13;[49] Gen 33:4[50]).

Now 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? What was he thinking?” This is in-credible!

We have to understand that back then, older, wealthy men did not run.[51] Middle Eastern patriarchs always walked in a slow, noble pace. Running was actually seen as humiliating.[52]

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.[53] He likely had to run through the village publicly,[54] – in front of all the neighbors who knew all about how the son had shamed him.[55]

Don’t you think the neighbors talked about him behind his back? C’mon, we know how people can talk. Ooh, did you hear what happened to Sis. such-and-such? Don’t we love the Holy Ghost gossip?

Not to mention, because of how they dressed back in the day, in order to run, the father would have had to hike up his skirt.[56]

All in all, this entire scene was very, very undignified. Jesus’ hearers are probably like, “What was he thinking? This is in-credible![57]

And the son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against Heaven and before you, I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” (Lk 15:21, AT cf. Ex 10:16;[58] Num 21:7[59]).

Notice how the son makes no claims for himself.[60] He admits that he is not worthy;[61] he doesn’t deserve it. And there’s something else missing from his confession: there’s no excuses.[62]

Don’t you hate apologies that aren’t really apologies? Don’t we sometimes sneak in some blaming and excuses when we say sorry? I’m sorry if I offended you, I didn’t know you were so thin-skinned.

Or when you’re a kid and your little brother is bothering you and you smack him a little too hard – on accident (of course) – you might say, “I’m sorry, but you started it!”[63]

And if your parent says, “Tell your brother you’re sorry!”, you might (sarcastically) say, “Sorry!”[64] and stick your tongue out at them. Sometimes the way we apologize can demonstrate our lack of sincerity.[65]

The younger son could have said, “I’m sorry, Dad, but you never should’ve given me the property in the first place!” But instead, he simply confesses that he was wrong and throws himself at the mercy of his father’s feet.

And before he can even complete his confession,[66] we see in verse 22: But the father said to his servants, “Quick! Bring out a robe — the best one– and put it on him, and give him a ring for his hand and sandals for his feet. (Lk 15:22, AT).

In this first-century context, the robe and the ring were signs of honor and authority.[67] Sandals, back then, were luxury items that were never worn by servants.[68] In that culture, going barefoot was a sign of humiliation.[69]

So, even though the son was going to say, “treat me like one of your servants,” his father treats him like one of His sons.[70]

And not only that, the son was going to be the esteemed guest of honor.[71] For the father says, “And bring the calf – the fattened one – slay it, and let us eat and celebrate.” (Lk 15:23, AT).

Now, at this time, Jews rarely ate meat.[72] To kill and serve a fattened calf was reserved for only the most special of occasions.[73]

Now how long does it take to properly cook a 16-ounce steak? Likely takes a few minutes, to cook a one pound steak, right? OK, how long do you think it takes to properly cook a fattened calf?

Nowadays, by the time male calves are weaned off of their mother’s milk, at around 7 or 8 months old, they are around 560 lbs.4

Imagine how big the calf would be after being fed a special diet to fatten them up for a few years [or at least several months].5 [74] It would have been big enough to feed an entire village.[75]

So, this was going to be a huge celebration — and prime rib was on the menu.[76] All the neighbors who likely talked about him behind his back were would be invited to the festivities. Because”, as the father says, this son of mine was dead and came back to life,[77] he was lost and has been found.” And they began to celebrate (Lk 15:24, AT cf. Lk 15:6, 9, 23[78]).

Now Jesus could end the story right here. It illustrates amazing grace. But as we know, the story’s not over.

Older Son: This Makes No Sense! (Lk 15:25-32)

Now his son — the eldest one — was in the field. And as he came and approached the house, he heard the sounds of musical instruments and dancing (Lk 15:25, AT).

Can you imagine him walking back home from a hard day’s work and hearing a party going on? The word translated “music” is συμφωνία (like symphony), which refers to the sound of various musical instruments playing together.[79] So, this isn’t just one guy with a flute playing a simple melody. Seems like they brought out the whole band![80]

Moreover, the word translated “dancing” (χορός | choros) refers to people dancing together – often in a circle.[81]

Now for us, when we dance together, we often dance in a line. We like line dances. So, if I could modernize the story a little bit, picture the older brother walking back to the house from field and then he starts to make out a tune that sounds like (“Electric Slide” tune) and then he starts to hear people doing the Electric Slide.

Now, if he’s anything like me, “[he’s] got to move… [he’s] going on a party ride… [he’s] got to groove, groove, groove… and from this music he just can’t hide.”[82] I’m just saying, he can likely hear the band jammin’, smell the steak cookin’, and hear the people dancin’.

So, he summoned one of the servants and inquired as to what all that could be about (Lk 15:26, AT). And he said to him, “Your brother has come, and your father killed the calf — the fattened one — because he got him back safe and sound.(Lk 15:27, AT).

“Safe and sound” is a translation of the Greek word from where we get the English word hygiene (ὑγιαίνω | hygiainō). On one level, it means to “be healthy” but also describes a rehabilitated, restored, reconciled relationship.[83] The younger son has been reconciled back into right relationship with his father; on more than one level, he has become well.[84]

But, as we well know, the older son does not take this news too well. The older son might have been ready to party. But when he gets this news, can you see the smile just fade from his face?[85] Someone ever say something to you that made you lose your appetite? Everyone else is celebrating, but he became angry and did not want to go in. (Lk 15:28a, AT).

Do we have any older siblings here today? Anyone else have 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?[86]

I think I can feel the older son’s pain. Put yourself in his shoes: Wait, my stupid kid 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? Are you kidding me?

I feel for the older son, because the younger son is not getting what he deserves.[87] His father is throwing him a welcome-home bash, but he likely deserves a welcome-home beating. What is he thinking? This is in-credible!

But the father is not just gracious to the younger son, but to the older son, as well.[88] He could have had one of his servants bring him inside.[89] But, instead, his father went out and pleaded with him (Lk 15:28b, AT).

Instead of putting his foot down and ordering him, he begs him to join the celebration.[90] Then the older son tells him how he really feels:

“Look! I have been slaving so many years for you and never did I disobey one of your commands.[91] Yet, never did you give me a young goat so that I could celebrate with my friends.” (Lk 15:29, AT).  But when this son yours — who devoured your life assets with prostitutes — came, for him you kill the fattened calf! (Lk 15:30, AT).

My how the tables have turned: The obedient son is now disobedient,[92] the son who was an insider is now an outsider.[93]

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 grave insults that would bring his father shame.[94] And, notice how this celebration does not include the father[95]  – just him and his friends.

Also, notice how he doesn’t even call his brother his brother.[96] He says, “this son of yours.”[97] Moreover, there’s a big difference between a fattened calf and a young goat.[98]

The older son is essentially saying: your other son disowned you, but when he comes back, you throw a block party with filet mignon! I’ve been doing what I’m supposed to do all these years,[99] but you never even gave me Happy Meal![100]

Though I feel for him, the son may be overstating his case. First of all, I doubt that he has obeyed every single one of his father’s commands perfectly.

Secondly, it’s not clear how he would know if the younger son was wasting his money with women or not (cf. Prov 29:3[101]).[102] Also, though the word πόρνη (pornē) most often refers to prostitutes,[103] more broadly, it can also describe women who have any kind of illicit sex.[104]

According to Scripture, sex ought to be between a husband and wife. Anything else is considered πορνεία (porneia), which is usually translated as “sexual immorality” (cf. Mt 15:19; Ac 15:20; 1 Cor 5:1; 6:13, 18; Gal 5:19; Eph 5:3, etc.). [105] I’m not saying I’ve been perfect; I’m just saying what the perfect word of God says.

Nonetheless, the father doesn’t even address the son’s bold claim of perfect obedience. Instead he says, “[My] child,[106] you are always with me and everything of mine is yours.” (Lk 15:31b, AT).

The father has already divided his property between his two sons. Since the younger son has squandered his share, everything that is left literally belongs to the older son.[107] The older son has access to all that belongs to his father.

The irony is that the younger son is willing to work like a slave but is treated like a son.[108] The older son may not realize his privileges as a son and sees himself as working like a slave.[109]

The father continues, But it was necessary[110] to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.” (Lk 15:32, AT).

Notice how he corrects the older son by saying, “this brother of yours”.[111]

And the father virtually repeats what he said earlier in verse 24. The son was dead to him, but now is alive. He was lost to him, but now is found.[112]

This is not about the father’s gullibility; it’s about the father’s grace. This is not a time to question the father’s fairness, but a time to celebrate the son’s salvation.[113] And, Jesus ends the story here – with a cliffhanger.[114]

The Three “Lost” Parables of Luke 15

Now if we zoom out a little, 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.[115] So, understandably, the Pharisees are muttering to themselves, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them” (Lk 15:1-2).[116]

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.[117]

In the first parable, a shepherd leaves 99 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 turns her house upside down until she finds one of her ten coins (Lk 15:8-10).[118] 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: one out of 100, one out of 10, one out of 2.[119] And, in each parable, there is rejoicing when what was lost is found (Lk 15:7, 10, 23, 32).[120]

In verse 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, 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 literally “comes to himself” – which an expression for saying that he repents.[121]

So, given what we read in the first two parables, we can see how the father represents our Amazing, Gracious God.[122] 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 [123]– likely similar to the sinners who were sitting at the table listening to Jesus.

But whom does the older son represent?

Divine Dinner Invitation

The older son likely represents the Pharisees and the scribes (cf. Lk 15:1-2).[124] Many of them, like the older son, were probably self-righteous.[125]

Earlier in Luke 5, when the self-righteous Pharisees previously complained about Jesus eating with tax collectors and sinners, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Lk 5:31-32, NIV).[126]

All who come to God humbly through Christ, with no excuses or fake apologies, and throw themselves at the mercy of the Father, will be healed by the Great Physician. They will be made spiritually healthy and they will be celebrated.[127] Therefore, when someone repents and truly gives their life to Christ, we too should celebrate.[128]

Now we don’t know if the older son comes to his senses or not. With the cliffhanger, Jesus leaves it open-ended.[129] This is likely because he has told these three parables to invite the Pharisees and scribes to the table[130] – to the same table with the tax collectors and sinners.[131]

He is basically saying, “God and the angels are rejoicing over these sinners who have repented. Why aren’t you?”[132] “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 some of this barbecue?”[133]

He is responding to his critics with an invitation.[134] He’s like: Hey, we got music, we got dancing (Lk 15:25), we got all the food you can eat. There’s room at the table; would you like a seat?

And this invitation still stands for both the self-righteous and the self-seeking sinners even today.[135]

Sin: Self-Seeking, Self-Separation

It’s been said that, at its essence, sin is a self-separation from God.[136] It is knowing God’s way but saying “no” to God’s way.[137]

Instead of saying “thy will be done” (Mt 6:10), it’s saying “my will be done.” It’s doing our own thing, going our own way, following our own dreams. This is the sinful way of self.

Even though they might want to do whatever they wish, 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.

My 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… (Jas 1:17).

As we’ve said before, 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?

Our Seeking Savior

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 Jesus says that He “came to seek and to save the lost.”[138] To seek and to save the lost. The shepherd in the first parable demonstrates how God in Christ is seeking to save us[139] – to be in relationship with us.

How does that make you feel? Men may have hurt you, women may have broken your heart, and this world may have chewed you up and spit you out. But, my brothers and sisters, there is a God who is actively pursuing you.

And no matter what people think, He thinks you are to die for. We are not worthy; but He thought we were worth saving.

Conclusion

God’s grace is so amazing because, like the younger son, we don’t deserve it[140] (Rom 6:23, Eph 2:8-10). We have all sinned and separate ourselves from God (Rom 3:23).

And we cannot earn our reconciliation back to God simply by following the rules (just like I couldn’t earn a car from my parents simply by doing what I was already supposed to be doing).

We need grace – unmerited, undeserved favor. We need grace that says: no matter what you’ve done, no matter how far you have fallen, no matter how many mistakes you have made,[141] 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.

People might ask, “What is God thinking?” This is in-credible! But we serve an incredible God – an Amazing, Gracious Father.

Repenting from our selfish, sinful ways and putting our wholehearted, active trust in Christ are the keys to eternal, abundant life.

My brothers and sisters, if you feel like you’ve lost your keys, and have been walking around in zigzags, please allow me to offer you the most basic advice of all-time: Have you tried retracing your steps?

For our Amazing, Gracious Father rejoices when one of His children is lost and then found. May the LORD bless you and keep you.

Greek Text (UBS5)

11 Εἶπεν δέ, Ἄνθρωπός τις εἶχεν δύο υἱούς. 12 καὶ εἶπεν ὁ νεώτερος αὐτῶν τῷ πατρί, Πάτερ, δός μοι τὸ ἐπιβάλλον μέρος τῆς οὐσίας. ὁ δὲ διεῖλεν αὐτοῖς τὸν βίον. 13 καὶ μετʼ οὐ πολλὰς ἡμέρας συναγαγὼν πάντα ὁ νεώτερος υἱὸς ἀπεδήμησεν εἰς χώραν μακρὰν καὶ ἐκεῖ διεσκόρπισεν τὴν οὐσίαν αὐτοῦ ζῶν ἀσώτως. 14 δαπανήσαντος δὲ αὐτοῦ πάντα ἐγένετο λιμὸς ἰσχυρὰ κατὰ τὴν χώραν ἐκείνην, καὶ αὐτὸς ἤρξατο ὑστερεῖσθαι. 15 καὶ πορευθεὶς ἐκολλήθη ἑνὶ τῶν πολιτῶν τῆς χώρας ἐκείνης, καὶ ἔπεμψεν αὐτὸν εἰς τοὺς ἀγροὺς αὐτοῦ βόσκειν χοίρους, 16 καὶ ἐπεθύμει χορτασθῆναι ἐκ2 τῶν κερατίων ὧν ἤσθιον οἱ χοῖροι, καὶ οὐδεὶς ἐδίδου αὐτῷ. 17 εἰς ἑαυτὸν δὲ ἐλθὼν ἔφη, Πόσοι μίσθιοι τοῦ πατρός μου περισσεύονται ἄρτων, ἐγὼ δὲ λιμῷ ὧδε ἀπόλλυμαι. 18 ἀναστὰς πορεύσομαι πρὸς τὸν πατέρα μου καὶ ἐρῶ αὐτῷ, Πάτερ, ἥμαρτον εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ ἐνώπιόν σου, 19 οὐκέτι εἰμὶ ἄξιος κληθῆναι υἱός σου· ποίησόν με ὡς ἕνα τῶν μισθίων σου. 20 καὶ ἀναστὰς ἦλθεν πρὸς τὸν πατέρα ἑαυτοῦ. ἔτι δὲ αὐτοῦ μακρὰν ἀπέχοντος εἶδεν αὐτὸν ὁ πατὴρ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐσπλαγχνίσθη καὶ δραμὼν ἐπέπεσεν ἐπὶ τὸν τράχηλον αὐτοῦ καὶ κατεφίλησεν αὐτόν. 21 εἶπεν δὲ ὁ υἱὸς αὐτῷ, Πάτερ, ἥμαρτον εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ ἐνώπιόν σου, οὐκέτι εἰμὶ ἄξιος κληθῆναι υἱός σου.3 22 εἶπεν δὲ ὁ πατὴρ πρὸς τοὺς δούλους αὐτοῦ, Ταχὺ ἐξενέγκατε στολὴν τὴν πρώτην καὶ ἐνδύσατε αὐτόν, καὶ δότε δακτύλιον εἰς τὴν χεῖρα αὐτοῦ καὶ ὑποδήματα εἰς τοὺς πόδας, 23 καὶ φέρετε τὸν μόσχον τὸν σιτευτόν, θύσατε, καὶ φαγόντες εὐφρανθῶμεν, 24 ὅτι οὗτος ὁ υἱός μου νεκρὸς ἦν καὶ ἀνέζησεν, ἦν ἀπολωλὼς καὶ εὑρέθη. καὶ ἤρξαντο εὐφραίνεσθαι.

25 Ἦν δὲ ὁ υἱὸς αὐτοῦ ὁ πρεσβύτερος ἐν ἀγρῷ· καὶ ὡς ἐρχόμενος ἤγγισεν τῇ οἰκίᾳ, ἤκουσεν συμφωνίας καὶ χορῶν, 26 καὶ προσκαλεσάμενος ἕνα τῶν παίδων ἐπυνθάνετο τί ἂν εἴη ταῦτα. 27 ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτῷ ὅτι Ὁ ἀδελφός σου ἥκει, καὶ ἔθυσεν ὁ πατήρ σου τὸν μόσχον τὸν σιτευτόν, ὅτι ὑγιαίνοντα αὐτὸν ἀπέλαβεν. 28 ὠργίσθη δὲ καὶ οὐκ ἤθελεν εἰσελθεῖν, ὁ δὲ πατὴρ αὐτοῦ ἐξελθὼν παρεκάλει αὐτόν. 29 ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν τῷ πατρὶ αὐτοῦ, Ἰδοὺ τοσαῦτα ἔτη δουλεύω σοι καὶ οὐδέποτε ἐντολήν σου παρῆλθον, καὶ ἐμοὶ οὐδέποτε ἔδωκας ἔριφον ἵνα μετὰ τῶν φίλων μου εὐφρανθῶ 30 ὅτε δὲ ὁ υἱός σου οὗτος ὁ καταφαγών σου τὸν βίον μετὰ πορνῶν ἦλθεν, ἔθυσας αὐτῷ τὸν σιτευτὸν μόσχον. 31 ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτῷ, Τέκνον, σὺ πάντοτε μετʼ ἐμοῦ εἶ, καὶ πάντα τὰ ἐμὰ σά ἐστιν 32 εὐφρανθῆναι δὲ καὶ χαρῆναι ἔδει, ὅτι ὁ ἀδελφός σου οὗτος νεκρὸς ἦν καὶ ἔζησεν, καὶ ἀπολωλὼς καὶ εὑρέθη.6

Bibliography

  • Arndt, William, Frederick W. Danker, and Walter Bauer. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.
  • Balz, Horst Robert, and Gerhard Schneider. Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1990–.
  • Bock, Darrell L. Luke. The IVP New Testament Commentary Series. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1994.
  • Bock, Darrell L. Luke. The NIV Application Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1996.
  • Bock, Darrell L. Luke: 9:51–24:53. Vol. 2. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1996.
  • Bovon, François. Luke 2: A Commentary on the Gospel of Luke 9:51–19:27. Edited by Helmut Koester. Translated by Donald S. Deer. Hermeneia—A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2013.
  • Chen, Diane G. Luke: A New Covenant Commentary. Edited by Michael F. Bird and Craig Keener. New Covenant Commentary Series. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2017.
  • 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.
  • Evans, Craig A. Luke. Understanding the Bible Commentary Series. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1990.
  • Garland, David E. Luke. Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: . Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012.
  • 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.
  • Keener, Craig S. … And Marries Another: Divorce and Remarriage in the Teaching of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2012.
  • 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, 2009.
  • Louw, Johannes P., and Eugene Albert Nida. Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains. New York: United Bible Societies, 1996.
  • 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.
  • Pao, David W., and Eckhard J. Schnabel. “Luke.” In Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, 251–403. Grand Rapids, MI;  Nottingham, UK: Baker Academic;  Apollos, 2007.
  • Plummer, Alfred. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel according to S. Luke. International Critical Commentary. London: T&T Clark International, 1896.
  • Reiling, J., and J. L. Swellengrebel. A Handbook on the Gospel of Luke. UBS Handbook Series. New York: United Bible Societies, 1993.
  • Robertson, A. T. A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research. Logos Bible Software, 2006.
  • Schreiner, Thomas R. “Luke.” In Evangelical Commentary on the Bible, 3:799–839. Baker Reference Library. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1995.
  • Silva, Moisés, ed. New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2014.
  • Stein, Robert H. Luke. Vol. 24. The New American Commentary. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992.
  • Strauss, Mark in Arnold, Clinton E. Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary: Matthew, Mark, Luke. Vol. 1. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002.
  • Thayer, Joseph Henry. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Being Grimm’s Wilke’s Clavis Novi Testamenti. New York: Harper & Brothers., 1889.
  • Trites, Allison A., William J. Larkin. Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, Vol 12: The Gospel of Luke and Acts. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2006.
  • Wallace, Daniel B. Greek Grammar beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996.
  • Wilcock, Michael. The Savior of the World: The Message of Luke’s Gospel. The Bible Speaks Today. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1979.

[1] Likely the most famous parable of Jesus. Allison A. Trites, William J. Larkin, Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, Vol 12: The Gospel of Luke and Acts (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2006), 219.

[2] “This unit is popularly called ‘The Prodigal Son,’ a title whose roots go back to the Vulgate… Some call it ‘The Gracious Father,’ a good alternative. Nonetheless, a title like ‘A Father and His Two Different Sons’ may be even better.” Darrell L. Bock, Luke: 9:51–24:53, vol. 2, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1996), 1306.

[3] Bock BECNT, 1309. “…any title given to this parable should make clear that the father, not the sons, is the central figure.” David E. Garland, Luke, Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012), 624.

[4] 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.

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

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

[7] This “prepares the way for the three parts of the parable…” François Bovon, Luke 2: A Commentary on the Gospel of Luke 9:51–19:27, ed. Helmut Koester, trans. Donald S. Deer, Hermeneia—A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2013), 424.

[8] 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; Trites, 219; Craig A. Evans, Luke, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1990), 236; Bock BECNT, 1309; Garland, 624; Alfred Plummer, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel according to S. Luke, International Critical Commentary (London: T&T Clark International, 1896), 372; Bovon, 425;  J. Reiling and J. L. Swellengrebel, A Handbook on the Gospel of Luke, UBS Handbook Series (New York: United Bible Societies, 1993), 546; Diane G. Chen, Luke: A New Covenant Commentary, ed. Michael F. Bird and Craig Keener, New Covenant Commentary Series (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2017), 216.

[9] “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.

[10] “Sons did not normally demand their inheritance before the death of their father, but the warning against dividing an inheritance during a father’s lifetime in Sir 33:20–24 suggests that such a thing was occasionally done, and many a rash father lived to regret it.” Garland, 624. Cf. Plummer, 372; Cf. Num 27:8-11; Chen, 216. “It was discouraged, since it was considered undesirable to have aged parents reduced to begging from their children.” Bovon, 425.

[11] Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), Lk 15:11–12; cf. “The father would have normally retained his possessions until he died. The younger son’s demand said, in effect, “To me you’re dead,” and thus disgraced his father before the whole community.” Trites, 219. Cf. Garland, 624; Cf. Sir 33:20-24; Mark Strauss in Clinton E. Arnold, Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary: Matthew, Mark, Luke, vol. 1 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002), 447.

[12] Keener Lk 15:11-12

[13] 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.

[14] “…his request clearly signifies his rejection of his family.” Green, 580. One of the six things the Lord hates (Prov 6:16-19; Garland, 624).

[15] Edwards, 438.

[16] “Not only has he declared total independence from his father, he has also abandoned his responsibility to care for him in his old age (Exod 20:12; Deut 5:16).” Chen, 216.

[17] Keener, Lk 15:11-12; Bock BECNT, 1319; Garland, 628; Strauss, 448.

[18] “Interestingly, the reference to the estate is graphically called τὸν βίον (ton bion), which literally means ‘the life.’” Bock BECNT, 1309. “…resources needed to maintain life, means of subsistence.” William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker, and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), BDAG, 177. “The Greek word βίος has as its first meaning “life,” then “means of subsistence,” “resources.” So the father gives his son the means to make a living.” Bovon, 425.

[19] “[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. Cf. Bock BECNT, 1309. “…this image pictures the heavenly Father letting the sinner go his own way.” Bock BECNT, 1310. “God allows sin’s punishment to work itself out in the lives of those who willfully desert him and try to go it alone.” Garland, 620.

[20] “Jesus’ readers would have been horrified first that the younger son would ask for the division, but then that he would demand power over it immediately. They would be equally shocked that a father would allow himself to be treated in this way.” Strauss, 447. “The son deserves a good scolding! We are baffled by the father’s action.” Chen, 216.

[21] “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; “He apparently has no concern for the well-being of his father (or family). He has not chosen to stay nearby; rather, he liquidates his inheritance and leaves home.” Evans, 232. Cf. Bock BECNT, 1310. “To liquidate his portion of the estate and then to leave his family amounted to an act of the grossest disregard and disloyalty.” Evans, 236. Cf. Garland, 624; Bovon, 425; Reiling, 546; Strauss, 447.

[22] “…‘he squandered his wealth in the wildest extravagance’.” Morris, 258. Stein, 405. He went on a spending spree. Bock BECNT, 1310. “Wisdom contains extensive warnings about this kind of foolish behavior and its inevitable results: “Do not give yourself to prostitutes, or you may you lose your inheritance” (Sir 9:6; see Prov 5:1–14; 23:26–35; 29:3); “whoever loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and olive oil will never be rich” (Prov 21:17).” Garland, 625.

[23] Green, 580. “The Jews considered the loss of family property to Gentiles a particularly grievous offense and grounds for excommunication.” Strauss, 447.

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

[25] “He seems to be completely selfish, egocentric, and anxious to move far away from his father’s influence and authority and, probably, from Jewish restrictions and limitations.” Trites, 220.

[26] “In this culture, however, preserving family relationships was of utmost value, and this son spurns his duties to his father and ruptures family ties to pursue his selfish interests in what he imagines to be fairer climes.” Garland, 625.

[27] Morris, 258 cf. Trites, 220; Garland, 625; Strauss, 447.

[28] 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. Cf. Lev 5:2; Ac 20:24; Trites, 220; Evans, 236; Is 65:4, 66:17; Bock BECNT, 1311; Garland, 625; Strauss, 447; Chen, 216.

[29] Edwards, 440.

[30] “A degrading employment for anyone, and an abomination to a Jew.” Plummer, 373.

[31] Stein, 405. Cf. “Pods and seeds taken from the locust or carob tree served as fodder for pigs and cattle. In hard times, these were sometimes consumed by the poor.” Trites, 219. “When Israelites are reduced to eating carob-pods, they repent” (Leviticus Rabbah 13.3; Song of Songs Rabbah 1.4).” Evans, 236; Strauss, 447. “R. Aha commented, “Israel needs carobs to lead them to repentance” (Lev. Rab. 35.6; see parallel versions in Lev. Rab. 13.4; Cant. Rab. 1.4 §4). The Palestinian rabbis are remembered to have said regarding the verse, “In the days of her affliction and wandering Jerusalem remembers” (Lam 1:7): “when the son goes barefoot he recalls the comfort of his father’s house” (Lam. Rab. 1.7 §34).” Garland, 627; Strauss, 447.

[32] “Wallowing in sin, he now wallows with hogs” Garland, 625.

[33] “In respectable, law-abiding Jewish eyes, he had reached the lowest level of humiliation and shame.” Trites, 220. “His state of impurity has reached an all-time high.”  Chen, 216.

[34] “Whoever disregards discipline comes to poverty and shame” (Prov 13:18); “the righteous eat to their hearts’ content, but the stomach of the wicked goes hungry” (Prov 13:25; see 10:3).” Garland, 626.

[35] “Even unclean animals are better off than he is. Here is the lostness of the sinner.” Darrell L. Bock, Luke, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1994), Lk 15:11; Bock BECNT, 1311.

[36] “‘When a son [abroad] goes barefoot [through poverty] he remembers the comfort of his father’s house” (Lamentations Rabbah 1.7;…” Evans, 432. Cf. “What does it mean for the younger son to come to his senses? Is he showing signs of remorse, or has he simply devised a game plan to deal with his situation, hedging his bets and rehearsing a speech to manipulate his father into taking him back? Is he so motivated by sheer hunger that his repentance is fueled by survival instincts and not genuine remorse?” Chen, 217.

[37] “ἀπόλλυμι G660 (apollymi), to destroy, ruin, mid. perish, die, lose;…” NIDNTTE, 357. “‘I am lost’: the Greek verb (ἀπόλλυμι) meaning ‘spoil’ ‘lose,’ “destroy” is used in the middle voice (ἀπόλλυμαι) with the meaning ‘be lost’ or ‘die’” Bovon, 426.

[38] Bock BECNT, 1312. “His request is simply for daily care and sustenance as a day laborer (μίσθιος, misthios; BAGD 523; BAA 1059), the lowest of three classes of laborers. A slave (δοῦλος, doulos; Luke 17:7–9) was like part of the family, although part of the lower class. The day laborer was hired only on special occasions for one day at a time, and so was less cared for.” Bock BECNT, 1313.

[39] Horst Robert Balz and Gerhard Schneider, Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1990–), (EDNT) 432; Garland, 628.

[40] “There is deep irony in his situation: his father’s hired hands are in better shape than he is.” Bock BECNT, 1312.

[41] “His attempt to live carelessly and independent of any constraints is a failure.” Bock BECNT, 1313.

[42] “Is the son meeting his just fate?” Bock BECNT, 1312.

[43] Chen, 217.

[44] 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).

[45] “Indeed, the use of ‘heaven’ as a circumlocution for “God.” Green, 582. Cf. Evans, 236; Garland, 627; Reiling, 550; Strauss, 447.

[46] “In so doing he above all has sinned against God who gave this, the Fifth, Commandment (Exod 20:12).” Stein, 406.

[47] His father probably saw his son emaciated. Chen, 218.

[48] Lit. “he fell upon his neck” Cf. Gen 33:4; 45:14-15; Ac 20:37; Bock BECNT, 1313; Reiling, 551.

[49] Evans, 236.

[50] Garland, 628; Bovon, 427.

[51] Stein, 406. Lest their legs be exposed! Chen, 218.  “A person’s attire and hearty laughter, and the way he walks, show what he is.” (Sir 19:30, NRSV). A nobleman is known by his slow, dignified pace. Garland, 628 cf. Strauss, 448.

[52] “The scene is striking since even today, a distinguished Middle Eastern patriarch in robes does not run, but always walks in a slow and dignified manner. Running was viewed as humiliating and degrading.” Strauss, 448.

[53] Edwards, 442.

[54] Green, 583.

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

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

[57] “The father has endured the trials of having a foolish son (see Prov 10:1; 17:21, 25; 19:18, 26; 20:20; 22:15; 23:22–25; 28:24), but he refrains from giving him a sermon when he comes home: “Didn’t I tell you how it would go for you? Now will you listen to your father?” Garland, 629.

[58] Plummer, 374; Garland, 627.

[59] Garland, 627.

[60] Bock BECNT, 1313. “He accepts full responsibility for his predicament.” Garland, 628; Chen, 217.

[61] Chen, 217.

[62] “There are no excuses, only confession and a humble request. The picture shows what repentance looks like: no claims, just reliance on God’s mercy and provision.” Bock BENCT, 1313. Cf. Plummer, 375.

[63] https://blogs.psychcentral.com/love-matters/2018/06/the-top-12-fake-apologies-and-what-makes-for-an-authentic-apology/

[64] https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/understand-other-people/201607/i-m-sorry-you-were-offended-is-not-really-apology

[65] Cf. “remorse must be combined with action.” Garland, 627.

[66] There is no punishment (Cf. Dt 21:18-21), probation, or test for proof of true repentance. The Father likely interrupts him. Garland, 628, 29 Cf. “Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.” (Is 65:24, NIV). Cf. Bovon, 427; Chen, 217.

[67] Morris, 260; Stein, 407; Trites, 220. “The receiving of a ring (δακτύλιος, daktylios; a hapax legomenon) adds to the image of being ornately dressed. The ring may contain a seal and thus represent the son’s membership in the family.” Bock BECNT, 1314-1315 cf. Gen 41:42; Est 3:10, 8:2; Ezek 16:10; 1 Macc 6:15; Cf. Garland, 629; Plummer, 376; Bovon, 427; Strauss, 448; Chen, 218.

[68] Trites, 220; Plummer, 376; Strauss, 448.

[69] Edwards, 443; Bock BECNT, 1315. From destitution to restoration; rags to riches. Bock BECNT, 1315.

[70] Keener, Lk 15:12-14 cf. Bock BECNT, 1314. “The father says nothing to his son; he continues to let his conduct speak for him.” Plummer, 376.

[71] Evans, 237.

[72] Bovon, 428.

[73] Like a wedding feast. Strauss, 448. Or the Day of Atonement. Bock IVP. “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; Trites, 220. “The fattened calf would provide a banquet table with the very best feast possible in first-century Palestine.” Evans, 237. Cf. 1 Sam 28:25; Judg 6:25, 28; Jer 46:21; Plummer, 376; Bovon, 428; Reiling, 552. It also likely belonged to the older brother! Garland, 629.

[74] “Such an animal was specially fed and prepared for these occasions.” Some say the death of the fattened calf symbolizes Christ’s sacrifice, but this is not certain. Bock BECNT, 1315. “A fatted calf takes months to breed and is reserved for a special occasion, when many guests can be invited to enjoy it together.” Chen, 217.

[75] “…the entire animal would need to be consumed or it would go to waste, so slaughtering a calf means that the father intended to invite most of the village’s inhabitants to the homecoming party that evening.” Garland, 631 cf. Strauss, 448.

[76] Keener, Lk 15:23. “The fatness of the calf would make it a delicacy=prime beef” BDAG, 925.

[77]nekros and anazaō (‡) are used here metaphorically; they either refer to moral death and rebirth” Reiling, 553.

[78] Evans, 238.

[79] “① the sound produced by several instruments, music…” BDAG, 961. “Luke 15:25: συμφωνία καὶ χοροί, ‘music and dancing’ as expressions of joyous celebration. Συμφωνία probably refers here to the collective playing of various instruments.” Horst Robert Balz and Gerhard Schneider, Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1990–), (EDNT), 290. Cf. Bovon, 428.

[80] “The hapax legomenon συμφωνία (symphōnia) refers to band music.” Bock BECNT, 1316. “It almost certainly means a band of players or singers, and probably fluteplayers..” Plummer, 377.

[81] “χορός, οῦ, ὁ   choros   (circle-)dance (noun)… Luke 15:25: ἤκουσεν συμφωνίας καὶ χορῶν, ‘he [the older brother] heard music and circle-dancing,’ which indicated that a celebration was occurring (cf. Exod 15:20; 32:19; Ps 150:4).” EDNT, 470.

[82] Lyrics from “The Electric Slide” by Marcia Griffiths

[83] “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.

[84] “It is clear that this language does not denote merely physical well-being (cf. 15:24). Having returned from a period of alienation, the prodigal was reinstated to his original status as son, and thus he has now become well.” Moisés Silva, ed., New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2014), (NIDNTTE), 517. “In Luke’s time the verb “to be safe, in good health” (ὑγιαίνω) and the adjective “healthy, sound” (ὑγιής) could refer to a Christian attribute, not just one’s physical health…” Bovon, 428.

[85] “The older son returns from the fields where he presumably has been working all day to find that his younger brother has been given the red-carpet treatment.” Garland, 630.

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

[87] “…he regards his father’s action as a sign of favoritism, especially in light of his own faithfulness to his father. Perhaps this son fears a further paring away of his estate.” Bock BECNT, 1317.

[88] Plummer, 378.

[89] Garland, 630.

[90] Reiling, 555.

[91] Cf. Dt 26:12-13; Garland, 631.

[92] “’obedient” son is disobedient here” Darrell L. Bock, Luke: 9:51–24:53, vol. 2, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1996), 1318.

[93] “The apparent insider is an outsider.” Bock BECNT, 1317. In this culture, he would have been expected to serve as host. Bock BECNT, 1318.

[94] “…and could have warranted a beating.” Keener, Lk 15:25-28.  “Instead of confronting the father privately later, he dishonors him by arguing while the guests are present. His failure to use an honorific title (“my father” or “sir”) in 15:29 also demonstrates a disrespectful attitude.” Strauss, 448. “The older son’s refusal to join this public celebration gravely dishonors his father, but, as Jesus gently tries to coax the resentful Pharisees and scribes with these parables to receive repentant sinners with joy, so the father tries to coax his faithful son to rejoice over the recovery of his lost brother.” Garland, 630.

[95] Edwards, 445; Garland, 631.

[96] Also the older son does not seem to be too thrilled that his brother is home safe. Bock BECNT, 1317.

[97] “By calling his brother ‘this son of yours,’ instead of ‘my brother,’ the older son reveals his contempt for his brother. Likely it reflects the idea that such a disloyal son had been regarded as “dead” to the family… and so the older brother would have said that he had no brother.” Evans, 237. Cf. A contemptuous demonstrative pronoun cf. Jn 9:24; 12:34; Ac 7:40, 19:26, 28:4; A. T. Robertson, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research (Logos Bible Software, 2006), 697. Cf. Bock BECNT, 1318; Garland, 632; Plummer, 378; Bovon, 429; Chen, 219.

[98] “A goat would be considered quite inferior to the “fattened calf” of v. 23.” Evans, 237. Cf. Reiling, 555.

[99] “He perhaps assumes (correctly) that his brother came home only because he ran out of money. He also assumes that he had blown it and needed to be taught a lesson. The older brother probably would have thought the hired hand option should have been given more serious consideration. His anger seems justified. He has been the responsible son who fulfilled his duty to his father and worked in the fields.” Garland, 630. “We risk missing the joy of relationship with God when we turn him into a scorekeeper.” Darrell L. Bock, Luke, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1996), 415.

[100] Cf. Bovon, 429. “(in our culture, it would be the difference between a fast-food hamburger and a four-course meal).” Bock BECNT, 1318.

[101] Bock BECNT, 1318.

[102] Mere conjecture? Plummer, 378.

[103] “① one engaged in sexual relations for hire, prostitute, whore lit. … Lk 15:30”, BDAG, 854; EDNT, 139; NIDNTTE, 109.

[104] “1. prop. a prostitute, a harlot, one who yields herself to defilement for the sake of gain, (Arstph., Dem., al.); in the N. T. univ. any woman indulging in unlawful sexual intercourse, whether for gain or for lust: Mt. 21:31 sq.; Lk. 15:30;” Joseph Henry Thayer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Being Grimm’s Wilke’s Clavis Novi Testamenti (New York: Harper & Brothers., 1889), 532.

[105] The term “sexual immorality” (πορνεία) refers generally to “any kind of sexual immorality, from intercourse between two unmarried people to adultery and homosexual activity” (cf. Mt 5:32).” Craig S. Keener, … And Marries Another: Divorce and Remarriage in the Teaching of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2012), 28. “In the Pauline writings the word group evidently denotes any kind of illegitimate sexual activity (except for πόρνη, which means specifically “prostitute”).” NIDNTTE, 115.

[106] “He addresses his son tenderly with τέκνον (teknon, child), a vocative that could easily be rendered “my child” in our idiom” Bock BECNT, 1319 cf. Lk 2:48; 16:25. “More affectionate than υἱέ.” Plummer, 379 cf. Bovon, 429.

[107] “If he wanted entertainments he could always have them; the property had been apportioned…” Plummer, 379. “…his brother’s part had already been spent.”  Reiling, 556.

[108] “…the younger son never loses sight of his intrinsic sonship. He would have been happy with the role of a hired hand, but in his thinking and his speech, he still thinks like a son: “my father’s hired hands” (15:27), “I will … go to my father” (15:18a), “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you” (15:18b, 21). It is the sense of sonship that gives the younger brother, even if subconsciously, the courage to come home.” Chen, 219.

[109] Trites, 219; Bock BECNT, 1317. “His view of his relation to his father is a servile one.” Plummer, 378. “This son thought of his life as work, perhaps also as submission (δουλεύω can have both of these meanings.” Bovon, 429. Cf. “douleuō (also 16:13) ‘to serve as a doulos, i.e. as a slave, or, servant’” Reiling, 555 cf. Chen, 218.

[110] “The verb “it is necessary” has a connection with salvation in Luke (see 2:49; 4:43; 9:22; 13:16, 33; 17:25; 19:5; 22:37; 24:7, 26, 44).” Garland, 633.

[111] Bock BECNT, 1319. “It underscores that they are a family, and families do not run on the intricate calculus of a merit system.” Garland, 632; Plummer, 379; Bovon, 429; Chen, 219.

[112] “There is probably no difference in meaning between the two halves of the refrain; but νεκρός means “dead to me,” and ἀπολωλώς “lost to me.” Alfred Plummer, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel according to S. Luke, International Critical Commentary (London: T&T Clark International, 1896), 376.

[113] Bock BECNT, 1319. “The necessity of the celebration has nothing to do with condoning the younger son’s behavior, but everything to do with the joy of his return, without which he would have been forever lost and as good as dead.” Chen, 219.

[114] Chen, 219.

[115] Keener, Lk 15:2

[116] Trites, 219 cf. Plummer, 377.

[117] “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. Cf. Trites, 219. Cf. ““Unlike the lost sheep and lost coin, which were not responsible in any way for being lost, the lost son is lost because of his own wayward actions.” Evans, 232 (also quoted in Trites, 220).

 

[118] “The paradoxical mystery that repentance involves both human and divine action is portrayed in the three parables in this chapter. In the first two parables, the lost objects (sheep and coin) are passive figures that are diligently sought. These parables “suggest that the experience of repentance may be more like being found by someone who searches with great determination than like achieving something through our own determination.” The parable depicting the two sons is different and reflects “the human decision to return,” so that “the same act of repentance can be viewed as God’s saving action in a person’s life and as a human decision.” Though repentance is obligatory, it can never be understood as a human achievement that puts God in one’s debt.” Garland, 634.

[119] “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 cf. Garland, 623.

[120] Edwards, 431.

[121] “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 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. Cf. Trites, 220; Bock BECNT, 1312; Garland, 627. “The expression “come to oneself” was a part of the religious and philosophical vocabulary of the period. We encounter it in both the Testament of Joseph (3:9) and Epictetus (Disc. 3.1.15). For Hellenistic Judaism and early Christianity it expressed a decisive step of “conversion” (μετάνοια), a return to God.” Bovon, 426.

[122] “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. Cf. Bock BECNT, 1306.

[123] Cf. Evans, 233; Bock BECNT, 1306.

[124] Schreiner, 827; Evans, 233; Garland, 627; Plummer, 378; Chen, 220.

[125] Morris, 261. Edwards, 442. “Divine grace was not appreciated by the critics, who wanted to earn God’s favor and had no sympathy for those like the prodigal, who had to come back humbly to seek the Father’s mercy when they didn’t deserve it.” Trites, 221. Cf. Bock BECNT, 1306.

[126] “As the prodigal approaches his father, he relies totally on his mercy, completely humble and recognizing that the only right he has is the appeal for his father’s help. That is the essence of what it means to turn to God. As 5:31–32 says, Christ comes to call sinners to repentance.” Bock NIVAC, 415.

[127] Bock NIVAC, 415.

[128] Cf. Evans, 233; Bock BECNT, 1308. “One should not compare how God blesses, but be grateful that he does bless.” Bock BECNT, 1308. We should not share in unrighteous activities, but have an approachable, available relationship with sinners/unbelievers. Bock BECNT, 1321.

[129] Bock BECNT, 1320; Garland, 633; Plummer, 379.

[130] Bock BECNT, 1320; Garland, 633; Plummer, 379.

[131] Schreiner, 827. Green, 586.

[132] “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.

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

[134] Trites, 221.

[135] “The third parable in Luke 15 is designed to illustrate heaven’s receptivity toward a sinner’s repentance, as well as to condemn the protest of those who react against such divine generosity.” Bock BECNT, 1306. In a way, both sons are “lost”. But the lostness of the older is more subtle. Chen, 220.

[136] “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.

[137] Kreeft and Tacelli, 303.

[138] Edwards, 432; Bock BECNT, 1321.

[139] 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.

[140] “The elder brother’s concern for justice is natural. But the point is that God’s action is gracious, not deserved.” Bock BECNT, 1318.

[141] “God’s forgiveness is always available. No history of sin is too great to be forgiven. Our need is to turn to God and take what he offers on his terms.” Bock BECNT, 1308.

Image from –>7

Sources

  1. Lyrics from Stevie Wonder’s “Knocks Me Off My Feet”
  2. Lyrics from  VaShawn Mitchell’s “Nobody Greater.”
  3. Not sure where I heard this saying first.
  4. https://www.ncba.org/CMDocs/BeefUSA/Producer%20Ed/Beef%20Cattle%20Information/Management%20Sept.%202015.pdf
  5. Nowadays, apparently, a calf does not become a cow until it has its own first calf. But after about six months, they are classified as heifers. However, I am not sure if the first-century Jews used this same classification system. Point is: the calf was very large — much larger than necessary for a small dinner party
  6. Barbara Aland et al., eds., The Greek New Testament, Fifth Revised Edition (Stuttgart, Germany: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2014), Lk 15:11–32.
  7. https://www.hillelementary.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/lostandfound.jpg
About @DannyScottonJr 168 Articles
Imperfect servant striving to be an unapologetically apologetic ambassador for Jesus the Christ. Princeton University Alum | Palmer Theological Seminary Student