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Lost Years – Prodigal Son

The Reading:  Luke 15: 11-24 

He would gladly have fed on the pods that the swine ate” (v.16) RSV

The story of the Prodigal Son is one of the best known in the Bible.  Sadly, it fits our theme over these weeks of ‘Lost Years’.  This younger son decided that he was going to live life to the full.  He cajoled his future inheritance out of his father and set off to make his fortune, or rather, to lose it!

After an unspecified time of riotous living he ran out of money.  Some of the best years of his life had been squandered in self-indulgence, instead of steady work and application.  In the end he “would gladly have fed on the pods that the swine ate”.  He was reduced to looking after the animals that his race felt were ‘unclean’.  His life had become dirty and immoral.

We too may feel we wasted our years at school or university.  We avoided the dull and arduous route and pursued quick money or a life of pleasure.   Maybe the last thing in the world we wanted to be was to be like our “elder brother”.  In the story that elder brother was a man of duty but not of joy; he was unforgiving and ungenerous.  So it is understandable that the younger one wanted to be free and be real, but it was nevertheless a selfish and dead-end route.

God knows, and he wants us to fulfil our potential in the years that remain to us.  Our past need not be a ball and chain that drags us back for the rest of our life.  Unlock it; let it go.  The past is past.  With God, let us turn to the future and start working and striving with all the strength and the talents that he gives us.

There is also a spiritual application from this story. We may have wasted the best part of our life in neglect of God and of our soul’s requirements.  Our spiritual well is dry.  But let us take heart, even now if we turn to the Lord in repentance, we will find he is merciful.  Indeed he will “run to embrace” us (v.20).  He will restore our relationship with him and fill us to overflowing with love, joy and peace.

Jesus, I am sorry for the past.  Grant me the chance to live my future for you and for others.  Amen. 

Explore More

1  What is God’s message to those who go their own way?

    Isaiah 53:6, 55:6

2   What did God do for Israel in slavery in Egypt?

    Exodus 3:7-10

2 Responses to Lost Years – Prodigal Son

Clyde B. Jackson, DDS

1. What happened to the prodigal son long after the feast?
2. What do the two brothers owe to each other?
3, What is the responsibility of the father as mediator?


    Your questions are interesting, but any answers would be speculative. The Parable is only a story and is told to make one or more self-evident points. However, to attempt a response and trying to keep within the mind and teaching of Jesus, I would say:

    1. The Prodigal Son continued to respond positively to the love and forgiveness of his father. He could not repay the inheritance that he had blown in riotous living. But he would serve (as a son, not a servant) on the home farm, counting it all joy.

    2. All that people owe each other is love. The Prodigal could ask for forgiveness for having been feckless and wasting half the inheritance. He could have tried to restore relationship with his elder brother. But since the elder brother’s heart was hard, cold and judgemental there would probably have been little success. The elder brother should have followed the example of his father and found it in his heart to forgive his younger sibling.

    3. The father should (and did) try to bring about reconciliation between the brothers. This might seem to have been undermined by throwing a lavish party for the younger one’s return, but party or no party the elder brother’s heart was, and always seems to have been, hard; it was that of a resentful servant (not a son).

    Hope that helps or is at least of interest. Sorry that your questions got lost and so are only now being attended to.

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