Today, we are going to read a story from the Bible. This story is also known as a parable. There are many parables in the Bible. So, what is a parable? Well, it is a type of story that has a lesson or some wisdom or truths which we can learn from.
Today, we learn about a parable which Jesus told the people, called the Parable of the Lost Son. This parable is found in the Gospel of St Luke chapter 15, verses 11-24. I will read it in English and you can follow along with the Japanese translation.
Luke15:11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
13 “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. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 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.
21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
22 “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. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
Wow what a wonderful story that was! Did you like that parable? How many of us have heard this parable?
Let’s take a closer look at this parable and see what we can learn from it. Jesus told this parable. It was during the time of the olden day Israel or Palestine about 2000 years ago. We have a Jewish man who had 2 sons, and it seems that he was a rather wealthy man. How can you tell that he was a wealthy man?
Yes, because from the parable we know that he had many servants and property.
The younger of his 2 sons decided that he wanted his share of the estate of his father. And he asked his father for it. That is rather strange, don’t you think, for him to ask his father for his share of the property – when the father is still alive? The father went on to divide the property and gave the younger son his share. Soon the son left for a faraway country with all he had and foolishly spent all his money, and he had nothing left.
We are told that soon after that there was a famine and he was so badly in need of money to survive and he had to go work in a pig farm. It must have been very humiliating. In fact, he was also so hungry that he even asked his employer to give him what the pigs were eating, but they did not even give him that. I’m sure the living conditions were also very bad.
So that was when he finally realised that he had been so foolish. In verse 17 we read that “he came to his senses and he said how many of my father’s servants 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 servants. “
He was so desperate that he was prepared to swallow his pride and go back to his father and ask for forgiveness. He was prepared to even work as a servant in his father household. Because he realized that even the servants in his father’s household were much better off than he was here in this place.
And so he got up and made the long journey back to his father.
Now if you were the father, what would you have done? Would you have forgiven the son or would you have send him away again in anger?
Although we were not told in the parable, we can imagine the father must have been very sad and hurt by his son. However, we are told in the parable that the father had been looking out for his son, hoping that he will return some day. In fact, the father was looking out far off in the distance when he saw the son. And when the father saw him, he was filled with compassion and love for his son and ran towards him, gave him a big hug, and kissed him.
From our understanding, in those days, respectable Jewish men do not run in this manner, do not hug a dirty smelly person and do not kiss a person in the public. The son must have looked very bad, probably smelled because he has not showered for many days and probably was not wearing anything on his feet. He must have looked like a beggar.
Here, the son tried to explain everything to the father and apologize for his foolishness, but the father did not even let him complete his sentence. He asked the servant to quickly bring him the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his finger and put sandals on his feet (for only servants and slaves are barefooted). These items meant acceptance that the son is forgiven and welcomed back into the family – and not as a slave or servant.
He then ordered his servant to prepare a big meal to celebrate, and in verse 24 he said: “for this son of mine was dead; and is alive again. he was lost and is found.”
I have always liked this parable and the ending because it is an ending filled with Hope, Love and Joy. It is like how we wished all movies would end. The younger son was only expecting to have his father take him back and work as a lowly servant, maybe with a bed to sleep on and enough food so he would not go hungry again. But he did not expect his father to accept him back as his son again, and restore back to him all the rights of being a son.
Now this story was told by Jesus to show us a truth. Jesus wanted to demonstrate to us that the father was like God, our compassionate Heavenly Father, and how He loves us even when we have done really bad things in our life. When we decided to live our lives the way we wanted and when it caused hurt to God our Heavenly Father, God our Heavenly Father will still wait for us, if we humble ourselves and repent and return to Him. The Bible tells us in John 3:16 That God loved the world that He gave His only Son. That whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.
Jesus wanted to show us through this parable that no matter how far away or how bad we’ve become, there is always Hope, Love and Joy, for the lost son/daughter who returns. As long as we are ready to humble ourselves, turn back and come back home, the Father is always waiting for His children to return, and He’ll run forward to me to meet me along the way. It doesn’t matter how bad or how dirty we are, He will still accept us, He will give us fresh new clothes to wear, He will feed us, and He will give us sandals on our feet. For He is our ever-loving compassionate Heavenly Father.
I hope that you like this parable and that you have found it meaningful. I myself have made my way back to God our Heavenly Father, and even when I am not clean and have done bad things in the past, I have felt His love for me, His forgiveness and I have received that Hope, Love and Joy into my heart. Hallelujah.