The parable of The Prodigal Son is one of repentance, forgiveness, and the great joy that is experienced when we repent. The prodigal son left his father with his inheritance, and spends it all in sinful activity. Yet, once he runs out of money and works tending pigs, he realizes how far he has strayed, and returns to his father in repentance. His father forgives him completely, and because of the father’s joy that the son has returned, a feast is prepared. So it is with us and sin. Sin separates us from Christ; it causes us to lose the likeness of Christ, but does not cause Him to stop loving us. Yet, when we return to Him in repentance, we are forgiven, and Christ celebrates our return from sin. Those who have not fallen away from Christ in a dramatic manner should not be jealous of the celebration surrounding the person who has returned from sin, because they have always had Christ in their lives. Let us return to Christ today, so that we too may experience His forgiveness and the joy of returning to Him.
The Prodigal Son is a moving parable, which is applicable to us in so many ways. In the story, an ungrateful son demands his share of his inheritance—in effect, declaring he views his father as already dead—and takes off. He goes to a faraway land and blows it all on partying and sinful living. Running out of money, he gets a job tending pigs, which was certainly one of the lowest professions for a Jew. Realizing that even a hired person in his father’s estate would be treated better than he was being treated, this man returned and begged to be received just as a hired servant. The father, however, completely restored his son, and ordered a magnificent celebration.
When this man returned home, his father wept. He ran to meet him, and instead of receiving him as a hired servant, he received him as a son! All that was required was the humility of the son. God can’t force us to return, but if we just take a deep breath, admit our faults, and take a step towards God, he will literally meet us “half-way.”