1 August 2021 Anno Domini, the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
11 And he said, A certain man had two sons: 12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. 13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. 14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. 15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. 17 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, 19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. 20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. 21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. 22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: 23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry 25 Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. 28 And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him. 29 And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: 30 But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. 31 And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. 32 It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found. (Luke 15:11-32).
We take up today the third in a trilogy of lost things in Parables – the Prodigal Son! Due to the length and intrinsic beauty of this Parable, we shall study it in two parts, over two days. The first part involves the coming of age of a son, his rebellion to the Father, his departure and descent into debauchery, and finally his awakening and return to the Father. In the second part, we shall study the reaction of his brother to his homecoming.
11 And he said, A certain man had two sons – not just ‘any’ man, but a ‘certain’ man. The father in this Parable is illustrative of God our Father in Heaven who has two peoples (Jews and Gentiles) to whom have been offered the most beneficent of blessing – the salvation by grace through faith in His only Begotten Son. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. Please bear in mind that the younger son, though of tender years, has come to the age of accountability. He is like a Christian who is born of God, has lived as a son of God, but finally rebels against God his Father. In this respect, he differs from the Lost Sheep who was not mature, and not well learned in the means of grace or of pasturelands. He also starkly differs from the Lost Coin which was dead – just as dead as the lost sinner is dead in trespasses and sins. The Lost Sheep, because of its lack of vision and maturity, does not intentionally leave the Good Shepherd. It gets lost because it lacks the sense to follow closely on; but, once lost, it is incapable of finding itself because it lacks the deep root of faith which typifies a well-nurtured child of God. So the Good Shepherd must seek out the Lost Sheep. The Lost coin, being inanimate of spirit, is lost wherever it is and, if found, must be found only by its rightful owner who is God, and by His Sovereign Will and Grace.
The young son desires to be out from under the watchful, though loving, eye of his father. From the moment of his birth, he has lived according to the law of his father. He feels now that he is grown up and become the wisest of ten thousand – he believes can do better. He is a child of God by circumstance of a (new) birth and not by persistent faith. Bear in mind, too, that according to the laws of inheritance, the father is not obligated to ‘divide his living’ to the young man. In fact, the young man was impertinent to even make the request. But, even though the son desires to part company with his father, the father loves his son and realizes that the argument of logic and reason will not benefit at this early point of the young man’s maturity (or, rather, immaturity). Our Father God compels none to abide under His beneficent care. Even nations who opt to abandon God do so oblivious to the danger and peril to which they subject themselves. God does not intrude where He is not wanted for He is a perfect gentleman, and we are left to the wiles of the Devil without His over-watching care and protection. We see this being demonstrated across the landscape of America today.
13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. How eager are the youth of our day to remove themselves a far distance from the watchful eye of the parent! When freedom looms bold, the child will hurry to get away and enjoy what he believes will be nothing but joy and plenty. Anytime one departs from his Father God, he will be going into a ‘Far Country’ where the famine will certainly arise for him. Being separated from God in spirit, as well as distance, will lead to depravity of conduct and a waste of the wealth God has given. Without the benefit of the Holy Ghost as our heart’s compass, it is impossible to live a life pleasing to God.
The good father watched the darling of his heart depart on that long, dusty road. He watched every move his son made until, at last, his visage disappeared on the distant horizon. How often would the father sit for days, months, and perhaps years, through the warm summers, amber autumns, dreary winter months, and through the promises of spring, watching that same road for any sign of his son’s return. How often would he inquire and receive word back that his son was wasting all – not only his wealth, but his health and humanity as well. Yet, the father never sent for his son or begged him to return. Why not? Because any amount of reasoning with a rebellious son will yield no victory until that son has learned (often the hard way) for himself the cruelty of a world without his Father’s loving care. Have we learned that lesson, reader?
14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. A Christian who departs from the presence of God will lose all in the process of riotous living. His life, begun in pleasures of lust, will come to mighty famine of spirit, body, and soul. The Dark Angel will take all that you have, and then some more. The time will always, and with great certainty, arise when you will begin to be in want. With some, this is the moment of awakening for the need of your Father; but with others, more suffering and desperate want is necessary. So it is with our Prodigal – too proud to return to his father, and too desperate to even remember the abundance which he has left behind at the end of that dusty road, he lingers on in peril of his soul forestalling the inevitable.
15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. If we are not joined with God our Father, we shall surely be joined to a stranger who gives not a whit for the well being of our souls. If our companions are not citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, they shall be citizens of that Far Country. The stranger to whom we are joined when apart from God will only use us and destroy us. He will place us in unsavory circumstances and filthy habitations. If we labor not in our Father’s Fields, we shall labor for the Destroyer of Souls. Imagine the hurt in the soul of a young Hebrew lad who was raised in plenty in his father’s house now having to feed swine.
16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. When you are out of the company of God, no man will care for you. You end up eating food for the soul that is like unto the food of pigs. Of course, he remembered that his father still loved him regardless of how far away he drifted, but his tortured mind had lost the ability to see and understand clearly in this Far Country. He was lingering in a state of reprobation.
17 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! It should be noted that any Christian who departs from the Presence of their Lord is not in his right mind, and this poor youth is no exception. He has travelled a great distance from the love of his father, but his father’s love knows no distance. His tortured brain had undergone a process of gradual deprivation and debauchery during this time of licentious living. It was necessary for him to suffer much, long and hard, in separation from the benefits of his father in order to penetrate his stubborn heart and spark his calloused spirit. But, he DID come to himself. He finally was forced to admit that all his dreams and fantasies were in ruins. He came to view, as we all must do apart from God, what a deplorable condition he had arrived at in his rebellion. Even the smallest little soul in our Father’s House has plenty of daily bread, and more; yet, we who believed we could do better in a Far Country, are perishing without that Bread of Heaven common in our Father’s House.
18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, 19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. Once we have come to the reality of our loss, we must resolve to return to our Father and confess our sinful disposition and living. We must face the reality that we are the most unworthy of all under God’s Heaven. We are certainly not worthy, nor have we ever been, of being a son or daughter of the Most High God. Sins against our earthly fathers are also reckoned as sins against heaven. We will then be happy to be accepted as only hired servants in the great house we deserted. But God has no “hired servants.”
20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. It is not enough to KNOW to do right – we must follow that realization with ACTION! We cannot make amends for our faithlessness in a Far Country – we must RETURN to the presence of our Father and confess our sins. The good father has felt the hurt of his son’s absence deep in his heart as he has watched, day after day, that same dusty road upon which his son departed. Once, perhaps as evening shadows begin to fall, he spots a lonely fellow coming on that road. Though his eyes have grown dim with age, he unmistakably recognizes that this fellow is his dear son! He knows his gait and carriage even though the fellow is not riding a charger or dressed in the silken blouse he wore when he departed. He is rather dressed in rags and is filthy in his person. Even from a great distance away, he recognizes his son. God always recognizes those of us who wander from Him when He sees us on the road of return. Is that not a blessing of great joy? God will always have compassion on us when we return no matter how long our delay. Even though we are filthy in our sins and exude the terrible stench of the pigpen, He will embrace us and greet us with a Holy Kiss. Only a Father could love such a child, and He has done so for you and me.
21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. Here, the prodigal satisfies the demands of love and conscience. He confesses, not only his sinfulness, but his complete unworthiness. None are worthy to be the son or daughter of God, but we shall certainly be if we have received that saving Grace of Jesus Christ. We see that there has taken place a four-fold undertaking in the prodigal’s return: 1) he came to himself and recognized his depravity; 2) He resolved to return to his father; 3) he arose and returned to his father in answer to his resolution; and 4) he confessed his dreadful behavior and worthlessness to his father. So must we do when we have separated ourselves from our loving Father!
22 But the father said to his servants(as if he did not hear his son’s comments), Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: That ‘best robe’ represents the White Robe of Righteousness offered by Christ to all who come to Him. He will cover our sins and nakedness with that Robe which He has purchased with His own precious Blood. That ‘ring’ which the father gives the son is the same as that Signet Ring of Authority that a Sovereign gives to a subject to act in His Name and on His own Behalf. The Christian has great authority granted in the power of the Holy Scriptures themselves. What of the shoes? In ancient times, the first thing taken from prisoners captured on the battlefield was their shoes. Their shoes were taken to prevent their escape. Shoes represent liberty and freedom. In Christ, we have perfect Liberty. “…..where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” (2 Cor 3:17) God our Father has covered our sins with that White Robe of Righteousness offered in Christ, given us Authority as believers to act on His behalf (having that same mind and will of the Father in our hearts), and given us perfect Liberty in Christ. The children of the Father have the complete free run of the home He offers. 23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry There will always be a feast of celebration in heaven at the return of a prodigal. There was joy in heaven at the recovery of the little Lost Sheep; there was joy in heaven over the recovery of the Lost Coin; and there was exceeding joy in heaven over the return of the Lost Son. How great worth we are as children of God. He will never forget us, nor will He give up watching and waiting when we depart from Him in rebellion.
24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry It is in the nature of a heart to lament the loss of a thing once owned far more than the failure to acquire something much desired. It is sorrowful for a woman to desire a child but remain barren of children; but it is of far greater anguish to have a child and lose it. In a Far Country, away from God, we are dead as much as before we were ever born in Christ. But God is joyful at our return. He cannot bring us home in our state of sin and rebellion – that is a decision that the heart of the wanderer must make – to come home to God, to confess our sinfulness, and be restored. He will not own us in a Far Country, but He will never disown us when we have come home to Him.
The question that this Parable raises is too apparent to deny: have you wandered from your Father’s home? Have you spent all of your resources in riotous living? Have you sunk to the level of the pigs in the sty? Have you come to the realization of your grievous apostasy? Have you resolved to return to you Father and confess your faults? Have you followed through with your resolution? Have you?