By Grant Hawley
The story of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32 is awesome. It is a masterful description of God's love for His children, especially the wayward ones. It isn't a story of a person first coming to faith in Christ?he was a son from the beginning. It tells of the life of the believer who abandoned walking with God, and having experienced the lie of freedom away from God, he returns. But it isn't really about that either. It is a story about a father's love?the Father's love.
This young man saw the world and the pleasures of it out there and it looked good. So he said to his father, "Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me" (Luke 15:12). In other words, "give me my inheritance now." The father in this story is so gracious. Even though this was like saying, "I wish you were already dead, so that I could get your stuff" he obliges. In a sense, he must have known that he had already lost his son's heart.
After leaving and wasting all of his inheritance on prostitutes and whatever else is included in the phrase prodigal living, he took a job working for a swine herder. As he fed the pigs (unclean animals according to the Law of Moses), his stomach ached and he envied the pigs. At least they had something to eat.
And then he remembered.
How many of my father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants" (Luke 15:17-19).
He then went to his father to ask him for a job. But he never got the chance.
"When he was still 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 to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am not longer worthy to be called you son." But the father said to his servants, "Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found." And they began to be merry.
How It Applies
If you feel like you have messed up your life too much, that you have dishonored God so much with your life that He could never restore you to the sweet relationship with Him that we all long for, this story puts the lie to that way of thinking.
If you're thinking to yourself, "I'm no longer worthy to be called a son [or daughter] of God," you're right, but that isn't the point. Jesus is worthy and you are a child of God because you are in Him by virtue of believing in Him.
If you're thinking that you will become a hired servant of God, that you'll work for Him and take a small portion as wages, that's not what He wants either. He wants you to enjoy all of the full experience of sonship.
Accept His love for you and enjoy.