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So you think you know the prodigal son?

Luke 15:11-24

 "Then 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 falls [to me].' So he divided to them [his] livelihood. 13 "And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. 14 "But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. 15 "Then 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 gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him [anything]. 17 "But when he came to himself, he said, 'How many of my father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18 'I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, 19 "and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants." ' 20 "And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still 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 to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.' 22 "But the father said to his servants, 'Bring out the best robe and put [it] on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on [his] feet. 23 'And bring the fatted calf here 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."

There is so much to learn from our Lord’s parable here. However, I would like to point out two very insightful revelations. 

        First, verse 14 says “But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want.”

When we arrogantly believe that our resources are our own, that we ourselves have created them either by work or swindling, we are on copious ground that will certainly lead to destruction. This is a protruding plot of the wicked one. First he draws one into react selfishly with the blessings that God has promised. He provokes us to pray and spend our blessings on our own selfish desires and then once we have received the answer to the prayer and have successfully squandered it, then the devil brings about such a situation as to cause famine in the land. This famine can present as actual famine, or it can present as a profound need that cannot be met now by anything that we do. Of course the wise thing to do is to run to our Father and humble ourselves before Him. However, I am simply illuminating this plot of the wicked one for future reference. James 4:3 says that we ask and do not receive, because we ask amiss, that we may spend it on our pleasures. It has long been thought that God is the one restricting the answer, but the story of the prodigal son contradicts this. Therefore, James 4:3 does not say “You ask, and God does not answer you because you want to squander the answer.” Because every time we ask, we receive from God. It is the wicked one that steals the blessings from us by provocation so that we become destitute and in need. Yet even in this, our wonderful Father in heaven forgives us, and turns it for our good and His glory if we will but choose to run back to Him. 

    Second, verses 17-19 illuminate the plan of the prodigal son. He prepared himself to seek his father by planning exactly what to say and how to say it. Then, when he returned to his father, his words carried no weight in turning his father’s heart and attention to him. The father ran to the prodigal son as soon as he saw him…the son didn’t have to say or do anything to elicit this response except show up. As a matter of fact, when the son did finally speak his prepared speech, the father acted as though he didn’t even hear him because what the son said and asked for was less than what the father saw in him and less than the father wanted to give him. This is the perfect example of the father doing exceedingly above all he could ask or think. And all it took was humility enough to run back to the one from whom all love emanates. We too, when we decide to run back to God, have no need of fancy speech or “correct” words because the humble state of our hearts is enough to draw the Father to us. It is the running toward God that brings Him to us.

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