And He said, “A man had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ So he divided his wealth between them. And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living. Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him.
Luke 15 features three parables of lost objects that have increasing value—a sheep, a coin, and a son. The last of these parables is the best known and begins by introducing the main characters. A man had two sons. The younger son approached the father with an arrogant attitude—Father, give me the share of the estate. What should have been, at best, a request was a command. The son was not patient enough to wait for his father’s death, but wanted his share of the estate immediately.
The son’s request for his inheritance was like telling his father, “I wish you were dead.” Inheritance comes when someone passes away; therefore, the son implied that he thought his father was worth more to him dead than alive. The father would have been heartbroken by the request, but he let the son have his wish and leave. Much like we do today, the son made idols out of the things his father could give instead of loving his father.
What followed is surprising. Within a few days, the son converted his assets into cash and hurried to start his journey. In the distant country, the younger son squandered his estate. A wild lifestyle of foolish living drove the undisciplined spending spree. The rich son quickly became a broke son and his thrill ride came to a miserable end. The disaster of the famine added to an already bad situation (Luke 15:14). His job as keeper of the pigs (v. 15) represented the low point of the fall. The prodigal had hit bottom. Many of the people we see each day are not far from bottom either, even though they look like they have it all together. We have an opportunity to meet people where they're at, and help them find the welcome of their Father when they return home.
- Put yourself in the place of the father in this story. How would you have felt? What would you have done in response to your son’s request?
- What does the state of the son tell you about the state of people who are far from God?
- Pray that God would give you a concern for the lost and wandering.