PART V: THE LOST FOUND
CHAPTER 23 THE LOST SON FOUND
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.
Jesus continued: "There was a manThe Story
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
"The son said to him, `Father, I
have sinned against heaven and against
you. I am no longer worthy to be called
"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
"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-
Under Jewish Law, the eldest son received two-thirds ofThe Interpretation
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
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
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."
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
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
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
GOD LOVES THE SINNER.
ConclusionThis 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
Let us demonstrate our love for sinners by bringing them
to the Savior. END.