In any problem time of life, a person must realize they are in a problem area of life. The first words of Luke 15:17 expresses what is needed, “And when he came to himself.” His sin had destroyed him. He understood that not only what he once was, but also, what he should have been at that moment were gone. They were gone because he allowed sin to take control of his life. The end of a sinful path is death (Romans 6:23), and all along sin’s way is misery and despair (Romans 3:16).
Prodigal’s path did not change until he realized the need for change; this applies to all of us. If you are driving down the street, come to an intersection, and turn right; you do so for a reason - wherever it is you are going needs a right turn to get there. If you do not believe you need to turn, you will continue to drive straight ahead. The same is true in life; for things to change a person must recognize that they need to turn. Prodigal realizes the direction he is on has taken him to the pigs – it is time to change course.
Prodigal makes a determination on what to do - he is going to go home, confess his sins to His Father, and ask for a job (Luke 15:18-19). He has a resolve to get out of the mire of the swine. By going home to dad, he is swallowing his pride and eating some crow. There are things in life we do not want to admit and sin is one of them. However, it takes the confession of sin and a resolve to come back home, spiritually speaking, for a Christian to regain fellowship with the Father.
Prodigal has it in his mind what to do, but if he never does it, he remains in the pig trough. It is one thing to feel guilty; it is another thing to forsake the sins that are causing you to feel guilty. To take action, to stop doing the wrong and go in the right direction is called repentance.
Luke 15:20 is one of the most heartwarming verses in the Bible, “And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.”
Once repentance takes place, we return home. When our Heavenly Father recognizes we are on the way, He will run to meet us and receives us as a loving daddy – fellowship restored.
Many a Christian has fallen into sin and believe they are now useless to God (Luke 15:21). Nothing can be farther from the truth. Every person has sinned, and God has a plan for all of us. God would make no plans if He could not use us.
When we sin, like the Prodigal, we leave fellowship with God, and some will go as far as eating with the pigs before they come to the realization that they need to return home to God. However, no matter how far we have gone from home, once we realize where we are, determine to go back home, and put foot to the pavement by repenting, God will meet us and restore us.
The Father puts “the best robe” on his back and a ring on his finger. In Bible days, wealthy families would wear clothes with a family symbol or colors. They were items of prestige; the robe separated the landowner family from the servants. The ring would also be a sign of sonship – containing the family seal and a measure of the household’s worth.
The Father was only waiting for him to return. As far as Daddy was concerned, Prodigal never ceased from being a son.
Some of you out there know that you are in the family of God, but when you look at your life, there is no family resemblance. The fruit of the Spirit, which we are known by (Matthew 7:16; Galatians 5:22-23), has long been hiding, unrecognizable in your life. Just like Prodigal you can repent and come back home.
Preacher Tim Johnson is pastor of Countryside Baptist Church in Parke County, Ind. Email him at [email protected] and visit preacherjohnson.com.