Sometimes the best way to illustrate a point is through the telling of a life situation that the listeners are able to understand. Jesus demonstrated this teaching method by the use of parables. When we speak of forgiveness of sins, an excellent biblical example is the narrative we call The Prodigal Son. In Luke 15, the Lord relates the case of a father and his two sons. The younger son comes to his father demanding his share of the inheritance. The father grants this son’s wish and the son departs “into a distant country” where he “squandered his estate in loose living.” When his wealth is spent, the son finds himself reduced to one of the most repulsive jobs a Jew could have, feeding pigs. Not only is he tending swine, he is so hungry he contemplates eating with the pigs. Luke 15:17 tells us, “When he came to his senses” he decides to return home, repent of his foolish sinfulness, and beg to be employed as a servant. While he is on the road home, the text relates one of the most heartwarming and encouraging scriptures in the Bible. ”And he (the son) got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him, and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him, and kissed him.” Luke 15:20. The repentant one is generously welcomed home and treated as a son.
Many lessons can be drawn from these passages, but we will address two here. Under Jewish law, the oldest son was to receive a double portion of the father’s inheritance at the father’s death. When this second son comes and asks for his portion, in essence he is wishing the father to be dead so he can get what is coming to him. How this must have grieved the father, but he grants the son’s wish and the son leaves his home. I am sure that for a time, this son enjoyed the pleasures of sin, his new found “friends,” and playing the role of an important man. However, this situation did not last forever. With the loss of his money went the loss of his fair-weather companions and he found himself in the depths of despair, the likes of which he had never known. However, hope for his redemption was not dead, because while he was at his lowest, the Bible tells us he finally “came to his senses.” When the child of God chooses to go away from the safety and security of a loving and faithful God, we are not using good sense. How unwise we are to leave our loving Father to sink into the pits of worldliness, but we do it all the time, because sin can be so alluring! The answer to this problem is to return home, repent, and renew our lives of faithfulness. There is NO other solution to sin. In John 6:68, when the Lord asked Peter if he would “go away” from him, Peter replies, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Don’t bother looking to other solutions to sin, there are none. A second beautiful truth found in these verses is the father’s response to his son’s homecoming. While the son was on the road home, the father sees and recognizes his wayward child while “he was a long way off…” The father had kept a vigilant watch and a hope in his heart that his son might possibly return home. He runs to meet this previously ungrateful son, embraces him, kisses him, clothes him, and calls for a celebration. This father’s response mirrors the character of our heavenly Father. He is saddened by our disobedience, but overjoyed at our repentance. 2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” What a wonderful God we serve!
If and when we find ourselves lured into sin, we must stop and “come to our senses” and repent. God will gladly and graciously welcome us back. It is the only solution for success in this life and the life to come. The wise king Solomon put it so well in Ecclesiastes 12:13 when he said, “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments for this is the whole duty of man.” Are you doing your duty?