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The Lost Son Found


      PART V: THE LOST FOUND

               CHAPTER 23  THE LOST SON FOUND
 

                                Introduction

     The  Parable  of  the Lost Son Found has been called the
         greatest short story in the world.  Barclay suggests we  call
         it  the    "Parable  of  the Loving Father."  (Barclay, DAILY
         STUDY BIBLE SERIES, LUKE,  pp. 211 ff.).  It  has  also  been
         called  the  Parable  of the Prodigal Son, The Parable of the
         Lost Son (New International Version),  The Parable of the Two
         Sons  [WESLEYAN  BIBLE  COMMENTARY, LUKE,  by Ralph Earle, p.
         294), and The Son Who Came Home  Again  [Ralph  G.  Turnbull,
         Gen.. ed., PROCLAIMING THE NEW TESTAMENT (Grand Rapids: Baker
         Book House, 1961), THE  GOSPEL OF LUKE, by Ralph Earle,  ThD,
         p.  67].  The various titles represent different perspectives
         on the parable.   This parable is found only in Luke 15:11-32.
 
 

The Story
                        Jesus  continued:  "There  was a man
                   who  had  two sons.  The younger one said
                   to his father, `Father, give me my  share
                   of  the  estate.'    So  he  divided  his
                   property between them.

                        "Not  long  after  that, the younger
                   son  got together all he had, set off for
                   a distant country  and  there  squandered
                   his  wealth in wild living.  After he had
                   spent  everything,  there  was  a  severe
                   famine  in  that  whole  country,  and he
                   began to be in need.    So  he  went  and
                   hired  himself  out to a citizen  of that
                   country, who sent him to  his  fields  to
                   feed pigs.  He longed to fill his stomach
                   with the pods that the pigs were  eating,
                   but no one gave him anything.

                          "When he came to his senses, he said
                   `How  many  of my father's hired men have
                   food to spare, and here I am starving  to
                   death!   I will set out and go back to my
                   father and say  to him:  Father,  I  have
                   sinned against heaven and against you.  I
                   am no longer worthy  to  be  called  your
                   son; make me like one of your hired men.'
                   So he got up and went to his father.
 
                          "But  while  he was still a long way
                   off,  his  father  saw him and was filled
                   with compassion for him; he  ran  to  his
                   son, threw his arms around him and kissed
                   him.

                        "The son said  to  him,  `Father,  I
                   have  sinned  against  heaven and against
                   you.  I am no longer worthy to be  called
                   your son.'

                          "But  the   father    said   to  his
                   servants, `Quick! Bring the best robe and
                   put  it on him.  Put a ring on his finger
                   and sandals  on  his  feet.    Bring  the
                   fattened  calf and kill it.  Let's have a
                   feast and celebrate.   For  this  son  of
                   mine was dead and is alive again;  he was
                   lost and is found.'   So  they  began  to
                   celebrate.

                           "Meanwhile, the older son was in the
                   field.  When he came near the  house,  he
                   heard    music and dancing.  So he called
                   one of the servants and  asked  him  what
                   was  going  on.  `Your brother has come,'
                   he replied, `and your father  has  killed
                   the fattened calf because he has him back
                   safe and sound.'
 
                         "The   older  brother  became  angry
                   and refused to go in.  So his father went
                   out  and  pleaded  with  him.    But   he
                   answered  his  father,  `Look!  all these
                   years I've been slaving for you and never
                   disobeyed  your  orders.   Yet  you never
                   gave me even a  young  goat  so  I  could
                   celebrate with my friends.  But when this
                   son of  yours  who  has  squandered  your
                   property with prostitutes comes home, you
                   kill the fattened calf for him!'

                        "`My son,' the father said `you  are
                   always  with me, and everything I have is
                   yours.  But we had to  celebrate  and  be
                   glad,  because  this brother of yours was
                   dead and is alive again; he was lost  and
                   is  found.'"   (Luke 15:11-32, New Inter-
                   national Version).
 


 
             Under  Jewish Law, the eldest son received two-thirds of
         his father's estate, the youngest son, one-third (Deuteronomy
         21:17).  The  father  could  distribute  his estate before he
         died.  The hired  servants were day laborers, the lowest rank
         of  slaves  who  could  be  dismissed at a day's notice.  The
         ordinary slave was in some sense  a  member  of  the  family.
         (Barclay, DAILY STUDY BIBLE SERIES, LUKE,  pp. 211 ff.).
              Earle gives an excellent outline of this touching story:

         1.    POSSESSOR  (VV.  11-12).    The  father   divided   his
         inheritance  between  his  two  sons.  The elder son received
         twice as much, probably because he was obligated to care  for
         his widowed mother.

         2.  PRODIGAL (V. 13).  The younger son left his home and went
         to a distant country where he squandered his  inheritance  in
         wild  living.   He went "hog wild."  He was soon to live with
         the hogs!

         3.  PAUPER (VV. 14-16).  After the younger son went broke,  a
         severe  famine  came  to  the  area.    He finally took a job
         feeding pigs.  Pigs were nonkosher animals  and  this  was  a
         demeaning  and  embarrassing  job  for him.  He was so hungry
         that he would have eaten the carob pods that he  was  feeding
         the pigs.  No one offered him any food or help.

         4.  PENITENT  (VV.   17-19).    In  his  moral  and  physical
         degradation, the  Bible  says,  "He  came  to  himself."   An
         objective  assessment  of  himself  and his condition gripped
         him.  He then determined to return  to  his  father  and  ask
         forgiveness, and ask for a job as a day laborer.  So, he left
         and returned to his father.

         5.  PARDONED (VV. 20-24).  His father saw him coming  from  a
         distance  and  ran  to meet him.  He joyfully welcomed him as
         his own son.  His son confessed that he  had  sinned  against
         God  and  against  his father, and since he had disgraced his
         father, he was no longer worthy to be his son.    The  father
         had  his son's rags replaced with the best robe.  He placed a
         ring on his finger--probably the  family  signet  ring  which
         gave  him authority to do business in his  father's name.  He
         was given shoes--slaves may not have shoes, but children did.
         The  father  ordered a choice calf (probably a penned and fed
         animal for superior  taste)  to  be  prepared  for  a  feast.
         (Turnbull,  Gen. ed.,  PROCLAIMING  THE  NEW TESTAMENT,   THE
         GOSPEL OF LUKE, by Ralph Earle, pp. 69-70).  (WESLEYAN  BIBLE
         COMMENTARY, LUKE, by Ralph Earle, pp. 294 ff.).

              Notice  that  the father did not merely forgive his son,
         but he reinstated him to full sonship.

              The  elder son became angry that his father had received
         his lost son with such joy.  He complained that he had worked
         hard  and  slavishly  for  his  father.  He had been faithful
         whereas his younger brother had wasted his father's  property
         on prostitutes.

            The father replied to his oldest son  that  every  thing
         that  he  owned belonged to his eldest son.  Now was the time
         for rejoicing--"Your younger brother is alive and  not  dead,
         he was lost but is now found."
 

                          The Interpretation
             He went to the dogs and ate with the hogs.
        Now homeward he jogs!

           This humorous look at the  Parable  of  the  Lost  Son  Found
         really  puts  it  in  a  nutshell.  But what a picture of the
         amazing grace of God that Jesus paints with words!

           The  characters and symbols of the story and the persons
         and things that they represent in reality are:

              1.  The father             Our Heavenly Father
              2.  The younger son    All of us
              3.  The elder son        Specifically, the religious leaders
                                              of the day who criticized Jesus. It
                                              would include all their  kind today
                                               as well.
              4.  He came to            Holy Spirit  conviction of our need
                  himself                  for forgiveness and salvation.
              5.  The robe               Christ's righteousness.
              6.  The ring                The authority Christ gives us.
              7.  The shoes              Sonship (includes both genders).
 
             This story is a story of the life Christ has given us.   All
         of  us  have  sinned  against  our Heavenly Father and wasted
         our talents.  When we come to our senses by the  aid  of  the
         Holy Spirit, and receive Christ, we are fully reconciled with
         our Heavenly Father.  We  were  blinded  by  rationalizations
         that allowed us to wallow in the "pig pen" of this world--the
         lust of the flesh, the lust of the  eyes  and  the  pride  of
         life.  Sin is moral insanity--the mind continues to function,
         but  one's  character  is degraded and immoral actions follow
         that are self-destructive.  When we  are  restored  to  moral
         sanity, we return to our Heavenly Father.

              Not  only  does God forgive us, but he gives us the robe
         of Christ's righteousness.  The Father views us as having the
         right  standing  with  himself that Christ does.  The rags of
         self-righteousness and sin are replaced with the  garment  of
         Christ's righteousness.

               The Father places his ring of authority on  our  finger.
         We  now  can "be about our Father's business."  We are led by
         the  Holy  Spirit  who now lives within us to help extend the
         kingdom of God within the hearts of people.  Christ gives  us
         the authority to do the works that he did while on earth.

               The  Father  gives us the shoes of sonship.  We are his
         sons and daughters.   We are no longer slaves  to  Satan  and
         sinful habits such as drugs, lying, sexual immorality, etc.

              We are brought to a banquet of joy.  All the  fruits  of
         the  Spirit  are given to us.  We are brought into fellowship
         with other sons and daughters of our  Father.    Greatest of
         all, we have fellowship with our  Father.  Once we were dead,
         but now we are alive.  Once we were  lost,  but  now  we  are
         found!


                         Central Truth

                       GOD LOVES THE SINNER. 
 

                          Conclusion

             This is the story of the redeemed.  I was moved to tears
         at the grace of God to me as I  wrote  the  material  in  the
         story above.  God's love for us is past understanding.

              How can any Christian be like the elder  son--devoid  of
         love  and compassion?   If we are truly sons and daughters of
         God, we must partake of his love nature.   His  love  in  our
         hearts  evaporates  a  harsh, judgmental attitude towards the
         lost.

             Let us demonstrate our love for sinners by bringing them
         to the Savior.  END.