By George Feldman
Our subject pictured above has hit rock bottom circumstantially. The only ones content are the hogs taking a siesta. From appearances it would be hard to believe the young man came from a wealthy family. The story of how he requested his inheritance from his father and squandered it in reckless living and a dissipated lifestyle is recorded in Luke 15:11-32. Added to this was a famine that worsened his situation and he ended up with an occupation feeding swine which was a despicable and insulting job for a Jewish person. However, the noteworthy high point of the story is that he came to his senses realizing his father's slaves were living better than he was! His decision to go back home and throw himself on his father's mercy to be restored to the family, acknowledging that he had first of all sinned against God, serves to illustrate the repentant sinner being welcomed back home by a loving and forgiving father.
And yet this was not the original intent of the story. It was given as a rebuke to the Pharisees who had no love for the people. The publicans and sinners were attracted to the Lord and He welcomed them. They had been excommunicated an ostracized from social and religious life of Israel by the Pharisees. No one dared to help or befriend any one they condemned, but the Lord did, and this enraged them so they plotted His death.
The prodigal son in the story portrayed the sinners in Israel, in a sympathetic and non-satirical way, yet without condoning or excusing their sins. No doubt this served to give words of encouragement to the publicans and sinners who were forced to take demeaning labor such as collecting taxes imposed by the Romans. The record of the elder son fits the Pharisees and exposes their hardness of heart and self righteous attitude, And finally, to end on a positive note, we have a beautiful portrait of the great love of God reflected in the prodigal's own father. And for us today, this wonderful love and grace of God is found in our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus.