I have had a real blessing in my study of the prodigal son parable and I desire to share it in the hope that I can convey the message that I received during my study.
Verse 11, 12 - And he said, A certain man had two sons:
And the younger of them said to [his] father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth [to me]. And he divided unto them [his] living.
At the request of the son the Father gives up everything he has shares it amongst his two sons thereby leaving him with nothing. Both sons receive an equal share (thus neither is favoured)
Verse 13 - 16 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.
And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.
And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.
There is something that really stood out to me in these verses. The younger son accepted the inheritance. When he asked for it, he believed and then took it. He did not place much value upon it and so squandered the wealth on things that were of greater worth to him and gave him greater value and identity. The famine reveals the true nature of life without God (A FAMINE!!!!!!) It offers great promises and then does not deliver but strips you of your identity and every value.
The son comes to the point where survival is the only option and the true nature of the citizens of this country is revealed. Not offering him any food, they put him to work among the swine (which for a jew who sees them as abominable and unclean would be translated "hitting rock bottom")
This young man can't get any lower!!! He desires to have something in his stomach with a little substance (the same way that we are starved of the bread of life when we venture into the world. the food there offered does not fill and strengthen like the bread of life)
Verse 17-18 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,
You notice the inference at the beginning of this verse... he had lost his mind! Something had happened to this young man in the past that made him start down this path. a belief that the grass was greener on the other side. But his father had not interfered with his mind set. The father lovingly allowed the son to make his choice.
Now the son looked back over the past and he realized just what he had given up. Now his heart begins to long for his father and the life that he left behind. He compares the least of men in his father's kingdom with his own current condition and realizes that they have it far better than he. (Every sinner who responds to the homeward call of the Father comes to this point of comparison in their life where they realize the worth of the Father's Kingdom) This brings about the son's repentant confession "I have sinned....."
Verse 19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.
Now it gets interesting.... Because of his confession and his disassociation with his father, he has lost his identity and as the wealth is squandered so is the sense of value gone. He is planning to return to a father whom ho now sees through a skewed filter. surely the Father wont accept him as a son after everything he has done and the disappointment/shame he has brought to the family. So he devises a plan to "work " his way back into the graces of his father to receive a sense of value. (salvation by works)
Verse 20-23 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.
But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put [it] on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on [his] feet:
And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill [it]; and let us eat, and be merry:
The son returns home to find that the Father has been watching for a sign of his return. The father never stopped waiting for his return. Eager to have his son back he runs toward him and embraces him in an effort to signal to the son that he has never stopped looking upon him as his son. The son begins his business deal speech with his father (hereby the son reveals that he does NOT know his father at all). The father does not allow the son to continue his train of thought, but demonstrates his love toward his son by reinstating him to the household as his son.
Then the father brings forth the meat that the son has been longing for and feeds him that he may be strengthened. The father knows all the sons needs (just as our Father knows all our needs before we ask!)
Verse 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.
The father has his son back. the one that was lost and dead. The father found him, and gave him the meat that brought him back to life.
The father can't express the level of joy that he feels at the return of his son.
Verse 25 - 27 Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing.
And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant.
And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.
Here is the contrasting image in light of this older son.... He is hard working and labours in the field, he is a provider. he is faithful and tireless. He hears that his only brother has come home and the family is throwing a party in his honor
Verse 28-32 And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and entreated him.
And he answering said to [his] father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:
But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.
And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.
It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.
Now the older son is indignant, he can't believe that this good-for-nothing younger brother who has waisted everything is allowed to come back and live as a son. And worse yet.... they throw a party for him!!!!
He does not enter the party to demonstrate his disapproval.... I noticed that the Father approached both sons. None is shown favour. they are both loved equally!
As the older son begins to unleash his fury upon the quietly listening Father, he reveals that all these years he has been lost himself in a works based relationship with is father and that inheritance which his father had bestowed upon him was never accepted otherwise he would have grabbed a kid from the flock had he wanted to. He also reveals that He does not know his father either. He has felt the need to appease the father with works.
The father takes the time to reveal to the son that everything around him belonged to the son and he needed to ask for nothing as it was already his.
The older son needs to realize that the Father has one object in mind... to be reconciled to the son. in fact to both... because even though the older son was there in person he was lost spiritually.
The younger son needs to decide whether he will accept the offer to return to the family as a son or whether his guilt will not allow him to accept the free offer and he chooses to pay for his dept which makes him a servant (warped identity!!!) and he never rejoins the family
Who am I.. the older or the younger son.. i believe the more important question is whether i believe that I am a son or a servant. As only a child of the Father will enter the kingdom!!!!
Thank you Father for revealing this to me