We refer to this as the parable of the prodigal son. Prodigal comes from the Latin word “prodigus” = wasteful or reckless. This young prodigal discovered three of life’s greatest lessons.
I. The Ruin of Self-righteousness (vs.11-16)
A. He was plagued by a natural uncontrolled desire – that of selfishness: (v.12) “give me”
1. Selfishness changed his value system
2. Selfishness closed his mind to the future
3. Selfishness separated him from his family
4. Selfishness cost him his material possessions
(Gen.4:12-16) “When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth. 13 ¶ And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear. 14 Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me. 15 And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him. 16 ¶ And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.”
Unlike Cain, the prodigal experienced mercy and grace.
II. The Road of Real Recovery (vs.12-19)
A. He became aware of the seriousness and failure of self-righteousness.
1. Frolicking in the wrong places and with the wrong people have a short and costly end.
2. Famine delivered to him a foreign desire and a frantic desperation.
3. His failure of obedience and faithfulness to God and his family values took him to hit bottom before coming to his senses.
Prop.: His selfishness produced rebellion. His rebellion turned him into a rover. His roving did not end until he came to a realization that he was completely responsible.
III. The Riches of Reconciliation (vs. 20-24)
A. He expressed a willing heart. (vs. 17-19)
B. He took the initiative and did the right thing. – (vs. 20-21)
C. He was humble and repentant to a receptive father – not condemning but forgiving.
(Jn.3:16-21) “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.”
The value of personal humility and obedience and faithful to the ways of God cannot be overstated!