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. 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. 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, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.Luke 15:11-19
The word “prodigal” means to spend money or resources freely and recklessly. That is an excellent description of the younger son in this parable. This son wanted what was “owed to him,” and he wanted it immediately. But his ungrateful mindset led him into a life of despair and misery.
This young man wanted to live a life full of partying and sin but did not think about the consequences of his actions. He soon found that the “friends” he had in the world left as soon as his money ran out. Everything that the young man could think to do did not work. And such it is with children of God when they try to live like the world.
Eventually, the young man “comes to himself.” This means that his right mind has returned and he knows his only hope is to plead for mercy from his father. Notice that he is not claiming any self worth or right to be accepted back at home. The clear sign of repentance in this young man is that his plan does not include excuses, blaming others, or demanding anything from his father. He plans to go back home and beg to be a hired servant in his father’s house. True repentance is when we see that we are guilty and do not try to make excuses for it.
There are many that want to enjoy the benefits of the kingdom but they want to do it on their terms and without changing their behavior. This is not the sign of a disciple. This young man wasted what his father had given him, and he knew it. He knew it was all his fault. He knew that he didn’t want to live a life of sin anymore. All he wanted was mercy from his father.
It is not necessary that every child of God go through this extreme an experience. We should certainly learn by example. However, when a child does go astray, it is obvious what he needs to do. He needs to repent. This means to turn back to the Father, to forsake his sinful ways, to confess all, and to beg for mercy. And what will he find? Well, as the parable shows, he will find a loving Father who has had His eye on him all along.
Sinner, come home.