A picture of repentance. Luke- Week 15- Day 1

(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.

Luke 15:11-20a

Explanation:

In today’s text we are going to focus on the first of three characters in the parable.  The first son, known as the prodigal son, shows us a picture of what repentance looks like.

(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.

Many have made the observation that in a Jewish context this would have been the utmost dishonor.  Asking the Father to give Him his inheritance would be akin to wishing He was dead.  Even in our context that would be a dishonorable thing.  Yet the Father went along with the request.

(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.

He uses His dad’s inheritance to live a life that was completely opposed to the Fathers values.  He was bringing shame to His Father’s name.  For the Jewish listener, the fact that He was going into gentile lands to live like the worst of the gentiles was highly dishonorable to His parents. To waste the inheritance showed that the son did not respect what it took for His Father to acquire what He had.  Thus the inheritance was “wasted” on “riotous living”.

The word “wasted” in the original language has the idea of scattering. It is the picture of irresponsibly throwing goods and objects of value away.

We all have a good idea on what “riotous living” means.  Not much has changed over time.  He spent his money on food, drink, drugs, promiscuous sex, ungodly entertainment, and other sinful pursuits.  This was the worst kind of living.  We know that in the end he had nothing of value to show for it.

(14)  And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.

He probably made plans to figure out how he would be ok financially, and yet, the unexpected happened.  There was a famine.  The economy changed, and he was out of money.  He had spent in a short time what it took his dad’s lifetime to achieve.

(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.

He had to get the kind of job that would have been among the most dishonorable, even for him.  He wasn’t even able to watch sheep.  He had to watch pigs.  Pigs were ceremonially unclean.  He didn’t even get paid enough to feed himself.  He was at the lowest of low points, looking to eat what the pigs were eating.  No man gave to him.  He had not made one friend that was loyal to him. When he had money there were people around, but now at his lowest point, no one was willing to help.

(17)  And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my fathers have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!

“And when he came to himself” is an incredible expression.  He hit bottom and it helped him to think correctly.  It’s almost as if good, common sense was finally a part of his thinking once He got to the lowest point. So He makes a plan.

(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.

Notice the nature of repentance here.  There was a change of mind.  “He came to himself”.   There was a confession.  “I have sinned against heaven and before thee”.  This was a right estimation of what He had done.  Sin is always against God before it is against anyone else. There was a right evaluation.  He said “and am no longer worthy to be called thy son”. 

(20)  And he arose, and came to his father.

His thinking lead to not just a confession, but to a decision, and behavior.  He came to himself, then he thought write, then he came to a decision, then he followed through and returned.

Application:

There are several truths about sin and repentance we can observe in this part of the story.

First, there is pleasure in sin for a season.  The prodigal was tempted by “freedom” that he thought was available by riotous living.  Sin seems as though it will bring freedom and fun.  We tend to think that we will be immune from any of the negative effects of sin, and just enjoy the

Yet, sin cost him more than he thought.  Which leads to the second truth.  There is always a cost to sin.  There is an old saying which has some truth to it.  “Sin will take you father than you wanted go, cost you more than you wanted to pay, and makes you stay longer than you wanted to stay.  When the prodigal asked his dad for the inheritance, there is little evidence that He thought it would end in him eating in the pigpen. 

Thirdly, we see that repentance begins with a change of mind.  The prodigal “came to himself”.  You can see the evidence of this thinking in the 18.  He recognizes that what he has done is sin, and even recognizes who he has sinned against.  He sees his actions as sin against God and against his father. 

Lastly, we see that a change in mind that is true repentance leads to a change in behavior.  In the coming verses we will see that the change of mind leads to a return to the Father.

Response:

  • Which of these truths about repentance is the most applicable to your life right now?

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