The son gets his money and goes to live as far away from his father as he can. Then he squanders his money in wild living, and Jesus says, “There was a famine in that country and he began to be in need.” So, he got a job feeding pigs. The irony was that the pigs were fed, but the man who was feeding them was hungry. So, the pigs were better off than the prodigal. At this point, Jesus said, “He came to his senses” (Luke 15:17)…
Thinking again about his father
“How many of my Father’s hired men have food to spare… I will set out, and go back to my father and say to him ‘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.’” Luke 15:17
Notice the change of mind towards his father. At the beginning of the story he says, “Give me my inheritance. You owe me. Let me go live my life. My brother may be happy to work for you, but I’m not!” There is real hostility here. Apart from God’s grace this is our natural condition, “The sinful mind is hostile to God” (Romans 8:7). Our natural bent is to be antagonistic towards God—to be angry, frustrated and resentful. It’s been like this ever since the disaster in the Garden of Eden.
Thinking again about himself
“How many of my Father’s hired men have food to spare and here I am starving to death!” Luke 15:17
This is a moment of great honesty. He comes to the place where he says, “This isn’t working. I am starving to death, while my father’s men have food to spare. What’s wrong with me? Why am I here? What am I doing?”
That’s where repentance begins: “What’s wrong with me that I am living at a distance from God? This God gives me life. He sustains me. He has come into the world and given himself for me. He offers me grace, and peace and life. He promises power by His Spirit. Why am I fighting Him? Why am I living at a distance from Him? What am I trying to prove by all this? What have I gained from it?”
He came to His senses. He thought again about his father, and he thought again about himself, “I’d be far better off in my father’s house.” He changed his mind and then he was able to move, “So he got up and went to his father” (15:20).
If you would repent you must believe
The prodigal was absolutely miserable in the distant country. But it takes courage to come back home. How do you find the courage to begin the long journey? You find the courage when you believe you will be welcomed. That is the promise of the gospel.
In fact, the father in Jesus story is more generous than the son would ever have dared to imagine. The father is filled with compassion. He throws his arms around him and kisses him. That’s forgiveness. He brings out the robe and clothes him. The father will not have him clothed in rags. He has new clothes so that he will not be ashamed. He calls for the ring, the mark of sonship, and places it on his finger, so that he can face the world as a new man, restored to a new position.
Jesus tells this story so that we will know how God the Father will receive those who come to Him in repentance and faith. That’s what God does for us in Jesus Christ. He offers you forgiveness from all your sins. He clothes you in His perfect righteousness. He restores you to the position of a son.
If you come to God today, through Jesus Christ, how do you think you will be received? He will welcome you like the prodigal son. Believe this and you will find the courage to repent. Believe that God loves you, that He sent His son to die for you, that He stands ready to forgive you, and accept you and restore you. You may feel you are far from God, but God is ready to forgive. He is ready to welcome you back. That’s the promise of the Gospel. When you believe it you will find the courage to repent.
This week's Scripture: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father give me my share of the estate” Luke 15:11
This LifeKey is based on the message “Finding the Hidden Path to a Transformed Life,” by Pastor Colin S. Smith on February 4, 2007, from the series “Repentance: The Hidden Path to a Transformed Life.” Colin currently serves as Senior Pastor of the The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in Arlington Heights, Illinois. He is committed to preaching the Bible in a way that nourishes the soul by directing attention to Jesus Christ.
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