Vol. 19, No. 37 – September 27, 2020
c. The Parable of the Prodigal Son, vs. 11-32, (continued).
Luke 15:17, “But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger!’”
In the following passages, we have several “3s.” Three is the number of Divine completeness and perfection. So, the use of three in these passages indicates the actions are complete in God’s eyes creating perfection in restoration of relationship experientially with God and man.
We begin by seeing three adjustments that come to the repentant son’s life:
1) First comes a recognition. “When he came to his senses,” vs. 17, it suggests he had been out of his mind in rebellion and sin. What he thought was pleasure, was only for a season, Heb 11:25, that resulted in pain and suffering. And now he came back to his right mind in repentance to God. He began to recognize something; he recognized the goodness of God. Longing for the food given to swine, he realized his father had more to offer than the man of this world. He recognized the generosity of his father compared to the stinginess of the man from a distant land, (i.e., Satan and his cosmic system). So, he saw that living apart from God and His graciousness amounts to craziness, depravity, sin, and suffering. A sinner cannot repent until he sees the insanity of sin in the light of God’s great goodness.
2) Second comes a resolution. The son decides that his place is rightly with his father rather than the world. Even more so, he decides to make one of the greatest confessions in the Bible. He confesses his sin to God, as we all should. And, he confessed without conditions or qualifications. He makes no excuses. He offers no explanations. He had sinned, period!
Psa 51:4, “Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge.”
The problem with many confessions is that they express regret for the consequences of sin, rather than regret for sin itself. That is the difference between worldly sorrow and godly repentance, 2 Cor 7:10. Most people are sorry for getting caught in their sin, rather than for their sin.
2 Cor 7:10, “For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.”
3) Third comes a resignation. This young man sees his sins and himself in light of God’s mercy, kindness, love, and greatness. He knows his depravity, so he relinquishes any thoughts or proprietorship of sonship. He would be content as a servant in his father’s house. Given his sin, he cannot claim to be a son; he can only hope to serve.
In true repentance, the person who turns to God begins to see God possibly as they never have before. They realize the greatness, mercy, kindness, and graciousness of His love. They see His generous character and understand His holiness, especially in comparison to the wretchedness of their sin.
When the sinner is brought low and humbled, they come to know God is generous, so they come to Him and make no demands of Him. They only ask in humble repentance for His forgiveness, which He freely gives. Therefore, the repentant person does not ask to be exalted or glorified, but only to have a servant’s place, and are content to receive the lowest place in the kingdom of heaven, Psa 84:10.
Psa 84:10, “For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand outside. I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.”
Luke 15:18, “‘I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight”’.”
Discipline leads to recovery for the insightful believer who repents.
“Self-realization of the hopeless and futile predicament of the sinful life is the first step towards true repentance. One must see that his own actions have led him away from the loving father (God). One must realize that the seeming pleasures of the sinful life are fleeting and unsatisfying, while life with the Father is full and rich. One must understand that a life of sin offers only destruction, while life with the Father offers life indeed. Until a sinner can be convicted of the reality that he travels a dead-end road, true repentance cannot come to pass.” (Complete Biblical Library Commentary).
Interestingly, for the repentant young man, we see him doing three things, just as we will see the father doing three things in response in vs. 20. Remember, three is the number of Divine Perfection.
1) He begins by “getting up,” which uses the Aorist, Active, Participle of the Verb ANISTEMI that means, “raise, raise up, bring to life, stand up, appear, or to rise again.” This word is often used for resurrection. Therefore, here it is figurative for the repentance of this young man that leads him back to the resurrected life. So, the first actionable thing he does in repentance is to pick himself up out of the sinful life he was living to get back into the resurrected life of holiness and righteousness.
2) He decides he “will go to my Father,” which uses the Future, Middle, Indicative of the Verb POREUOMAI, “to go, depart, travel, order one’s life, walk, etc.,” with PROS EGO HO PATER. This continues the picture of resurrection through repentance, when all believers will be raised to eternal glory and be in the presence of God forever. But, this also tells us that this young man will return to a relationship / fellowship with the father. For the believer it means to get back into the Word and fellowship of God.
3) “Will say to him,” uses the Future, Active, Indicative of the Verb EREO that means, “say or speak.” This is the analogy of the confession of his sins, the rebound technique, when we HOMOLEGEO our sins to God the Father, 1 John 1:9. The application of 1 John 1:9, is the process by which God forgives and cleanses our sins experientially that also restores our fellowship with Him.
Here, the son says the following to the “father,” PATER, that reflects our prayer life, as we are to address all of our prayers, especially the confession of our sins, to God the Father, Mat 6:9; Luke 11:2.
“I have sinned,” uses the Aorist, Active, Indicative of the Verb HAMARTANO, “to sin, err, or miss the mark.” This is the first time Luke uses the word, see vs. 21, and he will use it again for our Lord’s teaching on forgiving our fellow brothers and sisters, Luke 17:3-4. It is also the word used by John in 1 John 5:16-18, when speaking about the Sin Unto Death. Notice, there are no penance in view; no making up for his sins, and no excuses for his sins. He simply and plainly is confessing his sins.
“Against heaven and in your sight,” EIS HO HOURANOS KAI SU ENOPION that means, “before, in the sight or presence of, etc.” Heaven is the abode or dwelling place of God. Therefore, this confession is to God the “Father who is in heaven,” Mat 6:9, and in the sight of his earthly father. The second part is a recognition in humility, of the pain he caused his earthly father. For forgiveness of our sins by God, we only need to confess them to the father, 1 John 1:9, as we have sinned “against” God and God alone. But, we are also command to make amends with those we have hurt due to our sins, Mat 5:23-24. This is not for forgiveness from God, but to reconcile with others while freeing our souls of any guilt or worry due to our sins.
Mat 5:23-24, “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.”
Luke 15:19, “I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.”
“I am no longer worthy,” EIMI OUKETI AXIOS, “worthy, deserving, fit, good enough, suitable to, etc.” BDAG defines it as “having a relatively high degree of comparable worth or value, corresponding, comparable, worthy, of things, in relation to other things.” Here, with the negative OUKETI, it means we do not have those things. Pertaining to our verse it means, “we are not correspondingly fitting or appropriate, worthy, fit, or deserving.”
The thing this young man thought he was unworthy of being was “to be called your son,” KALEO in the Aorist, Passive, Infinitive, with SU HIOUS. He was relinquishing his authority and position as his son. He did not think himself worthy of being called, (treated like), a son by his father. He was demonstrating true humility. Therefore, we see that repentance is found in the humble heart.
“Make me as one of your hired men,” POIEO EGO HOS HEIS HO SU MISTHIOS. We noted MISTHIOS, “hired person or laborer,” in vs. 17, as these are the only two usages of this word in the NT. Therefore, instead of being treated like a son, he thought he should be treated like a hired servant.
This statement shows the young man’s new found humility, as a result of being brought to his lowest point and then turning back to his father, i.e., repenting. But the fact is, just like the believer, he will never lose his sonship. He will always be his father’s son, just as we can never lose our salvation and resultant sonship, no matter how much or how badly we sin. We will always be sons and daughters of God, Luke 20:34-36; John 1:12; Gal 3:26; 1 John 3:1-2.
John 1:12, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.”
Gal 3:26, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.”
Luke 20:34-36, “Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, 35but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; 36for they cannot even die anymore, because they are like angels, and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.”
1 John 3:1-2, “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2Beloved, now we are children of
God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.”
Since this young man cannot lose his sonship, he states, “he is not worthy to be called his son.” KALEO here means his status in society, reputation, authority, and power as a son. This reminds us, that if we do not act like the children of God that we are, others will not see us as children of God / believers. Instead, we will look and act just like a sinner or unbeliever. So, reputation is in view here, where this son recognized his sinful life style was not honoring his status of being a son of God and therefore he should not be considered as one. Paul had this similar thought when remembering his past as a persecutor of the church, 1 Cor 15:9.
1 Cor 15:9, “For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.”
Yet, the fact is, both the believer who sins and Paul have been given the position of being children of God, and in Paul’s case the addition of being an apostle. This position / status in Christ cannot be taken away regardless of our sins; past, present, or future.
Nevertheless, all of this is demonstrating the young man’s new found humility and integrity, where he takes full responsibility for his sinful actions, and is not “banking on,” (relying or counting on), his status of being a son to reinstate him to his prior place of prominence. No! He is willing to face the consequences of his sinful actions and believes that he should have consequences for his prior sinful and hurtful actions.
“Take note of the humility in his rehearsed speech. He acknowledged his affront without minimizing or justifying or shifting blame. He didn’t say, “I made a mistake.” He took responsibility for making a wrong moral decision, one that estranged him from his father and his God. He also acknowledged the consequences of his decision. His admission, “I am no longer worthy to be called your son,” wasn’t a platitude; it was a fact. He had legally forfeited his status as the man’s son. Later Jewish tradition permitted parents in similar circumstances to hold a funeral service for their children. Moreover, the son’s request for mercy was equitable for the father. He left his lofty expectations in the pigsty with his sin. Instead of asking to be restored as a son, he offered to become a hired hand. The boy’s speech demonstrated maturity, responsibility, humility, and compassion for those he harmed. He truly “returned to his senses.” (Swindoll’s Living Insights New Testament Commentary).
And with that, later we will see the forgiveness he receives from his father and the restoration to prominence as a result.
Luke 15:20, “So he 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.”
In the first half of this passage, we see that thought turns into action for the truly humble and repentant heart.
“So he got up,” KAI ANISTEMI. This is where we see thought leading to action. This tells us that we need to take appropriate action to recover from our sins, once we have had the mental attitude of repentance from our sins.
Interestingly, ANISTEMI is used once again and means, “to raise, raise up, bring to life, etc.,” which is one of the words in the NT for resurrection, 1 Thes 4:14, 16. Therefore, we see a type of resurrection for this young man. He has come back to the spiritual life that he left for sin, and is once again living the resurrection life here on earth. This is the sense of Eph 5:14, “For this reason it says, “Awake, sleeper (i.e., sinful believer), and arise from the dead (i.e., get back into the spiritual life that you have been given), and Christ will shine on you.”
“Came to his father,” ERCHOMAI PROS HO PATER. This is analogues for the believer to approach the Father in prayer as the first step in getting back into a relationship with Him that is followed by taking in His Word and applying it consistently, as you walk with Him daily. It speaks of the restoration of fellowship we have with God after we repent / confess our sins / Rebound, 1 John 1:6-9.
1 John 1:6-7, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 7but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”
Therefore, there is action we must take in our lives to get into fellowship with God experientially and remain there. That action is called in 1 John “confessing our sins” and then “walking in the light,” which means apply Bible Doctrine in our lives and saying no to sin temptation.
Therefore, as a result of this young man taking action after his mental repentance, he returns to his father. Next, we see the father’s reaction. Notice that before, the son even has an opportunity to confess his sins, his father responds to his positive volition.
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If you would like more information on this subject, you may watch/listen to lesson:
#20-099 & 20-100 & 20-101
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A PERSONAL NOTE FOR YOU
If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I am here to tell you that Jesus loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His life for you. God the Father also loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His only Son for you by sending Him to the Cross. At the Cross Jesus died in your place. Taking upon Himself all of your sins and all of my sins. He was judged for our sins and paid the price for our sins. Therefore, our sins will never be held against us.
Right where you are, you now have the opportunity to make the greatest decision in your life. To accept the free gift of salvation and eternal life by truly believing that Jesus Christ died for your sins and was raised on the third day as the proof of the promise of eternal life.
So right now, you can pause and reflect on what Christ has done for you and say to the Father:
“Yes Father, I believe that Your Son, Jesus Christ,
died on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins.”
If you have done that, I welcome you to the eternal Family of God!