Vol. 19, No. 39 – October 11, 2020
c. The Parable of the Prodigal Son, vs. 11-32, (continued).
Luke 15:21, “And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son’.”
“I am no longer worthy to be called your son,” EIMI OUKETI AXIOS KALEO SU HIOS. AXIOS, ἄξιος is an Adjective that can mean, “worthy, deserving, fit, good enough, suitable to, etc.
Notice once again, that before the son can get all the words out of his mouth, as he intended to say in vs. 19b, “Make me as one of your hired men,” the father interjects to remind him that he is still his son and restores him to fellowship as a son, vs. 22.
No one is worthy to be called anyone’s son, especially God’s. God knew in eternity past that you were not worthy. The younger son’s big problem is arrogance, not wild living. Emotion is a sign of his arrogance. He insulted his father’s honor in the last half of vs. 19. This phrase tells us that “we are not correspondingly fitting or appropriate, worthy, fit, or deserving to be called God’s sons and daughters.” But, that does not mean that we are disqualified from being so, because it is not dependent on us. Our sonship with God is based solely on Him and His great plan of salvation, which includes the completed work of Jesus Christ upon the Cross. Therefore, even though we are not worthy to be called sons or daughters of God, we are called that because we are given that position from the moment we believed in Jesus Christ as our Savior; as the father will demonstrate in the following verses.
True humility results in true recovery with God. In these passages, we have seen the son’s reaction where he demonstrated that his humility and conviction of sin was sincere. He did not seek to take advantage of his father’s gracious reception, just as we are not to take advantage of God’s grace in the experiential forgiveness of our sins, but rather he confessed his wrongdoing, just as we should do.
In this, the son noted three implications from his sin.
1. He realized he had sinned against heaven, i.e., God Himself. This tells us that sin does far more than affect our human situation, it is a Divine offense. God has defined what sin is, cf. Rom 3:20, and when we sin we are defying the Almighty.
Rom 3:20, “Because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.”
2. The son confessed that he had sinned before his father. This tells us that Sin is rarely private and personal. It almost always involves others. Sometimes our sins hurt the ones we love the most. For example: adultery can lead to far more than the pain suffered by the betrayed spouse, as the children of a broken home have scars throughout their lives, and even the parents of the guilty have to deal with the heartbreak they feel. As such, a seemingly private sin can inflict pain upon an entire community.
3. The son recognized that he was no longer worthy to be called a son. He had forfeited his sonship, even though sonship can never be forfeited. But the point is, sin leaves us with no valid claims of any right to God’s fellowship. Once we have turned our back upon Him, it is only through His gracious action that we are able to be restored.
Therefore, the implications of sin include: offending God in heaven, causing harm or hurt to our family, and forfeiting our rights to relationship with God. Even though sin can cause so much grief, God, in His grace, has provided a process of healing and recovery for both the sinner and those affected by sin.
Luke 15:22, “But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet’.”
As we saw in vs. 20, we also see here. Before the son has the opportunity to complete his pre-rehearsed repentance process, the father interrupts him and takes it from there. The son was going to add from vs. 19, “make me as one of your hired men.” But, before the words could come out of his mouth, his father instructs one of his servants to perform three tasks that signified to the son his complete forgiveness, restoration to fellowship, and continued sonship, just as our heavenly Father does when we are on the road of repentance. Therefore, the father is giving proof to his repentant wayward son that he is completely restored to fellowship, just as we are when we confess our sins to God the Father.
Here, we have three things, (Divine Perfection), that were given to the repentant son by his father that signified his restoration to the status of sonship, that speaks to the things we are restored to by God our Father when we repent from our sins.
“Here’s where the gospel defies every human expectation. We think the son might be chastised. We think the father would have been generous simply to allow the son back as a servant. We think the son could and perhaps should have been cut off. He has spent his inheritance; how can he come back asking for anything? But the father in the story, a reflection (although faint) of God the Father, pours out the storehouses of his grace and mercy at the faraway sign of his son’s repentance! The distant sighting of a sinner’s return elicits the fountain of God’s love! The sinner who turns finds that he turns right into the waiting arms of his God. God receives the penitent with the riches of heaven: the robes of Christ, the signet of sonship, the banquet of salvation! A kingdom for a beggar—that’s what heaven is! It makes the riches of God’s grace all the more glorious. My friend, if you’ve wasted your life in sin, turn to the merciful arms of God the Father. The Father will be tender and compassionate. You may come to him without fear. He will receive you.” (Christ-Centered Exposition)
Now, the first thing we note is that the father says to do these things, “quickly,” which is the Adverb TACHU, ταχύ that means, “quickly, swiftly, without delay, or soon.” It speaks of the immediacy of this restoration to fellowship that applies to all three articles placed on the repentant young man. Therefore, all three of these figurative things are given to us the moment we confess our sins in repentance of our sins.
1) “Bring out the best robe and put it on him.”
“Bring out,” is the Verb EKPHERO, ἐκφέρω in the Aorist, Active, Imperative of Command that means, “carry or bring out, or produce.” It is from EK, “out from,” and PHERO, “carry, bear, endure, produce, bring, etc.” Here, it too has the sense of immediacy. This is the only time Luke uses this word in his writings. It speaks to the restoration of fellowship in the family, as we are restored to perfect righteousness once we confess our sins to God the Father.
“The best robe,” HO PROTOS, is a Number meaning, “first, foremost, leading, most important, or chief,” with the Noun STOLE, στολή which means, “a flowing robe or festal robe.” The robe given to the son was a long, flowing garment typically associated with wealth. “It is a stately robe reaching to the feet or sweeping the ground like a train. It was a fine garment of special solemnity, beauty, or richness commonly associated with priests in their sacerdotal duties in the sanctuary. Such garments were also worn by men who were afforded special dignity or honor,” (Complete Biblical Library Greek Dictionary)
STOLE is used in Mark 12:38; Luke 20:46 for Jesus’ warning regarding the Pharisees whose arrogance brought them to wear long robes. But otherwise, it is used in a positive sense as here and Mark 16:5; Rev 6:11; 7:9, 13-14; 22:14, for the clothing adorned by the righteous.
“And put it on him,” in the Greek is KAI with the Aorist, Active, Imperative of ENDUO, “dress, clothe, put on, etc.” This represents that once we confess our sins, we will be adorned / clothed with God’s righteousness experientially, giving us experiential sanctification, as we are entered back into fellowship with God.
Therefore, the robe represents being restored to perfect righteousness (e.g., our status inside God’s Power System), as a result of our repentance, including the confession of our sins. It represents God’s grace plan for our restoration to fellowship with Him.
2) “And put a ring on his hand,” which uses the connecting Conjunction KAI with the Aorist, Active, Imperative of the Verb DIDOMI, “give, hand over, entrust, give back, etc.,” with the noun DAKTULIOS, that means, “ring or signet ring.” This word is only used her in the NT. It is used in the Septuagint for the Hebrew word TABBA’ATH that means, “signet ring,” that was worn to show identity and authority, Gen 41:42; Esther 8:8-10.
Gen 41:42, “Then Pharaoh took off his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand, and clothed him in garments of fine linen and put the gold necklace around his neck.”
They would put this ring “on his hand,” EIS AUTOS HO CHEIRA. In the ancient world, a ring like this one was equivalent to a debit or credit card today; one that the parents would procure, due to their good credit and status, and then allow the children to use. It was called a signet ring, which had the family’s emblem on it that could be used to make an imprint that would be taken by a merchant who would later charge the family for the goods bought. Therefore, the ring bore the family’s signet and was not merely a token of authority, it gave the son literal authorization to conduct business on behalf of the family.
In this scene, the ring indicated full restoration to privilege, position, and authority as a son. This tells us that it is God’s perfect credit that is assigned and restored to the repentant believer, so that we His children can purchase the things necessary for life. In other words, it is restoration back to applying God’s logistical grace blessings in our life, both for physical and spiritual necessities. The signet ring represents the fact that you can draw on God’s logistical grace blessings. It also indicates the authority we have to execute the spiritual life as royalty inside of God’s family. This reminds us of our royal priesthood and ambassadorship.
3) “And sandals on his feet,” uses KAI again, but this time it applies the Granville Sharp rule that includes this statement with the two previous as Imperatives of Command, even though there is not a verb in this phrase. Then, we have HUPODEMA, ὑπόδημα that means, “shoes or sandals,” it is used predominately for the narrative of John the Baptist who said he “is not worthy to untie the sandals of Jesus,” Mat 3:11; Mark 1:7; Luke 3:16; John 1:27; Acts 13:25. It is an expression of great humility, in recognition of the person of Jesus Christ and His mission here on earth during His first Advent. In other words, Jesus, who was also God, was given a great plan, work, and service to accomplish by God the Father. Jesus had to put on those sandals and walk in them. Therefore, we see that HUPODEMA or “sandals” means the work and service we have inside of God’s plan for our life. Then we have “on his feet,” EIS HO POUS, were feet also speaks figuratively for our daily walk in Christ.
Therefore, we see that:
1) The robe represents being restored to status and fellowship; including to perfect righteousness, (e.g., our status inside God’s Power System).
2) The signet ring represents the fact that we are restored to apply our logistical grace blessings. You can draw on your logistical grace blessings, so that you can operate inside your royal ambassadorship and priesthood.
3) The sandals represent the fact that we are restored to our daily walk in the light of Jesus Christ, where we have the opportunity for service and production.
Note once again, that all of this is the doing of the father, not the son. The son merely repented in non-meritorious faith. Just as everything involved and received in our repentance is from our Heavenly Father when we apply non-meritorious faith in Him and His Word.
Luke 15:23, “And bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate.”
After the father had displayed to everyone, and especially his wayward son, the immediate restoration of the repentant son, with three acts that speak to our restoration with God when we confess our sins to the Father, the father had one more blessing, as noted in this verse.
“And bring the fattened calf,” KAI PHERO HO SITEUTOS MOSCHOS. PHERO is in the Aorist, Active, Imperative for yet another mandate from the father. PHERO means, “carry, bear, endure, bring, or lead.” Even though used in the literal sense here to “bring,” it also has the figurative sense of “bearing and endure,” such as sacrificing so that fruit could be brought forth. For example, Jesus’ sacrifice would bear much fruit, cf. John 12:24. See also Luke 23:36. Therefore, we are to remember that Jesus died for our sins on the Cross when we confess our sins, giving us experiential sanctification in restoration of fellowship and service.
John 12:24, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”
Luke 23:26, “When they led Him away, they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene, coming in from the country, and placed on him the cross to carry behind Jesus.”
“Fattened,” is the Adjective SITEUTOS, σιτευτός that means, “fed, fatted, or fattened.” It is only used in this narrative and used 3 times, Luke 15:23, 27, 30. It describes the calf here, with the analogy of the foods prepared for sacrificial religious or festive occasions of celebration. It tells us that this calf was raised with special care specifically for consumption at feasts, just as Jesus came into the world and was raised with special care to be our sacrificial lamb upon the Cross.
“Calf,” is the Noun MOSCHOS, μόσχος that means, “calf or young bull.” It is used three times in the this narrative with “fattened,” as noted above, and three time in the rest of the NT, twice in Hebrews, Heb 9:12, 19; and Rev 4:7.
In Hebrew 9:11-22, it speaks of Jesus’ sacrifice as better than that of goats and calves, as prescribed by the Law, which established the new covenant with man that has cleansed all things. It is used in Rev 4:7, to describe the faces of the four living creatures who praise Jesus day and night.
Therefore, with the analogy of the “fattened calf,” we see the bringing forth of the sacrifice for our sins that would provide cleansing for the repentant believer. It reminds us that we are to go back to the Cross of Jesus Christ to remember and realize our sins have been forgiven, and through Him we have cleansing for restoration to fellowship with God.
In the ancient world, they would typically select an animal from the herd to fatten up in anticipation of a special occasion. They kept it in a special pen and fed it wheat grain for a month or longer. A well-fed calf would have provided for dozens of people, so the analogy is also that the sacrifice of Jesus is sufficient for all to partake of.
Next there are three things that they are to do with the calf, 1) Kill it, 2) Eat it, and 3) Celebrate with it.
1) “Kill it,” Is the Aorist, Active, Imperative of THUO that means, “sacrifice, slaughter, or kill.” It too is used three times in this narrative, but is also used in both the Gospels and Epistles. Luke’s only other use is in Luke 22:7, to note the feast of Unleavened Bread when the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed, which began the process of Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins. Matthews used it once as part of the invitation to the wedding feast, Mat 22:4.
Luke 22:7, “Then came the first day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed.” Cf. Mark 14:12.
Mat 22:4, “Again he sent out other slaves saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited, “Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast’”.”
1 Cor 5:7, “Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed.”
In addition, John uses it once in John 10:10, in reference to the thief who approaches the sheep only “to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” The thief steals the sheep to gratify his own appetite, but the good shepherd cares for the sheep’s welfare.
Therefore, to “kill the fattened calf,” reminds us of God’s provision through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins. This we are to remember when in repentance.
2) “Let us eat,” is the Aorist, Active, Participle, Nominative of the Noun ESTHIO meaning, “to eat or get sustenance.” It is a very common word that is used in contrast in this parable. In vs. 16, the sinful young man under discipline longed to eat the food of the swine he was feeding. Yet, here, he would eat of the sacrificial calf, which figuratively notes he would partake in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Cf. John 6:26-58.
John 6:51, “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”
When we confess our sins in repentance, we are reminded of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ that we are partaking of for the forgiveness of our sins experientially. As a Participle, it gives this verb noun like characteristics. This means that “eating” is also a position we stand in. Because of our faith in the confession of our sins, we are restored to fellowship with God through the work of Jesus Christ upon the Cross. With a cleansed heart and soul, we are able to partake / walk in the light once again.
3) “Celebrate,” is the Aorist, Passive, Subjunctive of the Verb EUPHRAINO, εὐφραίνω that means, “to be glad, rejoice, or be merry.” It is used in this narrative four times, vs. 23, 24, 29, 32, and two other times in Luke, Luke 12:19; 16:19. It is also used in Acts 2:26, and the Epistles of Paul, Rom 15:10; 2 Cor 2:2; Gal 4:27; as well as in Rev 11:10; 12:12; 18:20, for both human and heavenly rejoicing. It is associated with rejoicing at a banquet, as here, and speaks to the celebration we are to have knowing that Jesus paid for our sins and we are forgiven of our sins, and once again fellowshipping with God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, as David did in Psa 16:8-11, as retold by Peter on the Day of Pentecost, Acts 2:25-28.
Acts 2:25-26, “For David says of Him, “I saw the Lord always in my presence; for He is at my right hand, so that I will not be shaken. 26therefore my heart was glad and my tongue exulted; moreover my flesh also will live in hope.”
Therefore, we are to rejoice in the Lord, knowing that our sins have been forgiven experientially and we once again walk in the light of God and have fellowship with Him.
This passage gives us the picture of the restoration we receive when we repent from our sins utilizing 1 John 1:9; Mat 6:12; or Luke 11:4a, because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross for the payment of the penalty for our sins, that we partake of in faith, (first for our salvation and then for the forgiveness and cleansing of our sins post-salvation when we confess them), that we are to rejoice in; knowing that the work has been completed by Jesus once and for all time and which we receive the benefits thereof, (forgiveness, cleansing, and restoration to fellowship with God).
Phil 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!”
Luke 15:24, “‘For this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.”
In this passage, we see the father making a great proclamation about the repentant son with a double emphasis. The first statement is from the son’s perspective; the second is from the father’s perspective.
“For this son of mine was dead,” uses the Imperfect, Active, Indicative of the Verb EIMI, for ongoing past action, with the Adjective NEKROS for “dead,” that can also mean lifeless or useless. Here, it is used figuratively for the son who was lost, perished, or given up as dead. This goes back to the application in the ancient world where the son took his father’s inheritance as if the father was dead. Therefore, in this father-son relationship the son was also figuratively dead to the father where there was no longer any fellowship between the two. So is the wayward sinner, who is living inside of sin and Satan’s cosmic system. Even though the believer maintains their eternal life regardless of their sins, experientially it is as if they were still spiritually dead because they do not participate in their relationship with God. As sons and daughters of God the Father, when we walk in sin, it is like being spiritually dead, cf. Rom 6:13; Eph 2:1-6; 5:14; Rev 3:1. We have no fellowship with Him.
Rom 6:13, “And do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.”
Yet, for the repentant believer, they have, “come to life again,” KAI with the Aorist, Active, Indicative of the Verb ANAZAO, ἀναζάω that means, “live again or revive.” It is a compound word from ANA, “again,” and ZAO, “I live.” It is used here and in vs. 32, in this parable, and in Rom 7:9; 14:9; Rev 20:5. It is synonyms with ANISTEMI and EGEIRO that are used for resurrection. This word is used in opposition to death. Therefore, this gives us the imagery of resurrection for the wayward son, as we have noted previously in this parable, yet this is not the typical word for resurrection. Instead, it is emphasizing having a new life, as in Rom 14:9, “For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.”
To live again emphasizes a radical change of circumstance. Because the wayward son, who is a believer, already has resurrection life, this word is used to emphasize the fact that he has returned to that new life, which he had left due to sin. Therefore, when we sin, we live experientially as if we were spiritually dead, and when we repent through the confession of our sins, we are restored to living the new life that is found in Christ, the new resurrection life, cf. 2 Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15.
Also note that “was dead and has come to life” emphasizes the son’s actions. As a sinner he was living like a spiritually dead individual, yet in repentance he has regain the experience of living the new life in Christ, the resurrection life of the believer. The next analogy emphasizes the father’s actions.
The analogy is double emphasized which brings us back to the first two parables in this chapter about the lost and found, “he was lost and has been found.” “Lost,” is the Perfect, Active, Participle, Nominative of the Verb APOLLUMI once again that means, “kill, put to death, to be lost, etc.” We noted it in vs. 4, 6, 8-9, in the previous two parables, and in vs. 17, in this parable, and it is used in vs. 32. So, we have the imagery of comparison between being lost and being dead. Here, it means having sin upon the soul and being in darkness with no relationship with God experientially.
Then we have “has been found,” that uses the Aorist, Passive, Indicative of the Verb HEURISKO, “find, discover, obtain, or ascertain,” just as used in the previous two parables. So, emphasizing the father’s actions of having lost his son and now finding him, tells us of the restoration of fellowship from God’s perspective. To him the sinful believer is lost – interruption of relationship, and the repentant son is found, restored to fellowship once again.
After the great preparations and proclamation, “they began to celebrate,” ARCHO in the Aorist, Middle, Indicative with the Present, Middle, Infinitive of EUPHRAINO once again. The Middle voice says the action that they performed had a benefit back to them. Therefore, as our heavenly Father, Son, and Spirit, along with the heavenly host, both angelic and human celebrate when a wayward son repents, it has a result back to them in that they experience the joy and happiness of the situation and celebration. This is the comparison to vs. 7, 10, from the previous two parables about the lost and found.
Luke 15:7, “I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”
Luke 15:10, “In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
The father did not mourn or regret the return of the son, he celebrated the restoration. Therefore, once again, we see the great joy that God, along with the angelic realm and believers who are already in heaven, has when one of His children return in repentance, as He provides them forgiveness and restoration to fellowship with Himself. It gives God great joy to see the sinner return.
“We may sometimes feel our confessions and repentance will result in our loss, more pain, or something worse. These parables challenge us not to think that way. Though we find ourselves in the pig trough, the reward of coming back to God will be far and away greater than anything we risk losing from that trough! If we repent, God will be our Father. And unlike our human fathers, who have sometimes failed us, God will be the perfect Father who will never fail us, never forsake us, never punish us for his own convenience, but clothe us, love us, and rejoice over us. There’s no father like this Father. So come to God ready to be loved!” (Christ-Centered Exposition)
“This should have been the end of the story. In the first parable, the shepherd found his lost sheep and everyone celebrated. In the second story, the woman found her missing coin and everyone celebrated. When the prodigal son returned home, everyone celebrated—except for one person. Act 3 begins.”(Swindoll’s Living Insights)
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If you would like more information on this subject, you may watch/listen to lesson:
#20-105 & 20-106 & 20-107
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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!