Parable of Returning Sinner


James Tissot – The Return of the Prodigal Son

Younger Son

Luke 15:11-13 Then He said: “A certain man had two sons. 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. And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living.

How much is the portion of goods that falls to the younger son?

Deut 21:15-17 “If a man has two wives, one loved and the other unloved, and they have borne him children, both the loved and the unloved, and if the firstborn son is of her who is unloved, then it shall be, on the day he bequeaths his possessions to his sons, that he must not bestow firstborn status on the son of the loved wife in preference to the son of the unloved, the true firstborn. But he shall acknowledge the son of the unloved wife as the firstborn by giving him a double portion of all that he has, for he is the beginning of his strength; the right of the firstborn is his.

The elder son will receive a double portion. This means, the portion for the youngest son is a third. Thus, the younger son wasted a third of his father’s wealth in prodigal living.

Sin and Repentance

Luke 15:14-19 “But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything. 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! I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.

The younger son sinned by his prodigal living. Now he lost everything and desired to eat the food of swine. When he came to his senses, he repented for what he had done.

Compassionate Father

Luke 15:20-24 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. 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. 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. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.

Repentance from sin is one thing. Returning to the Father is entire another matter. The prodigal son did not just repent and stayed where he was. Instead he arose and went to the Father. It is also important the Father did not come in search of the son. It is the responsibility of every suffering sinner to stop sinning and return back to the Father.

Angry Elder Son

Luke 15:25-30 “Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’ But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’

The elder son was angry because his younger brother wasted a third of the father’s wealth with prodigal living and still a fattened calf was killed but the elder son never got even a young goat to have merry with his friends. The father pleads to be merry and celebrate his brother’s return.

The true reason for the anger of the elder son is that, his righteousness can’t achieve his right to be merry with his own friends while he was asked to be merry for the return of his repented unrighteous brother.

Luke 15:7 “I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.

It is like the righteous doesn’t want to rejoice with the Father over a repented sinner. The real issue of the elder son is not understanding the father’s heart.

Father’s Heart

Luke 15:31-32 “And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. ‘It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’ ”

The father finally says the reason why they must merry and be glad was that his younger son was dead but is alive again.


Heavenly Father is willing to forgive any sinner. However, the sinner must not be far away from the Father and expect the Father to come and rescue him while He is still sinning. It is the responsibility of the sinner who is in darkness to forsake his sins and come back to the Father so that he may live.

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