Hello everybody and welcome in to episode 198 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading Luke 15 today and our focus is on God’s Love for the Lost and His Joy When They Come Home. What Does Prodigal Mean? . We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in . Thanks for listening! Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast! Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\
Three parables – all about lost things – and one overall theme – the joy that comes when the lost are found. Christians should read Luke 15 once a month – I should read Luke 15 once a month. It is a wonderful chapter that in three different ways teaches the exact same truth: All of Heaven, including God the Father Himself, rejoices when the lost are found. Followers of Jesus need to remind themselves and be reminded of God’s heart and Heaven’s joy when somebody repents and turns to God the Father, and these three parables all reinforce that most important theme.
In Luke 15, we have one of Jesus’ most famous and most important parables: The Parable of the Prodigal son. Here’s a few surprising truths about this prodigal son:
#1, and most surprisingly, the Bible does NOT use the word prodigal to describe this young man – that was later added as a heading to this parable in the 1500s. That doesn’t mean the young man was not prodigal in his living, but just that the word prodigal, or a Greek word that directly refers to that, isn’t used in this passage. Which brings us to surprising fact #2 about the prodigal son:
#2 – Prodigal does NOT mean lost, or runaway, or anything at all like that. Prodigal means lavish, wasteful or extravagant – as in, somebody who blows a lot of money on reckless living. It comes from a root word in the latin that means, “to squander.” Prodigal is probably derived from a the Greek word asotus, found in Luke 15:13
13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered together all he had and traveled to a distant country, where he squandered his estate in foolish living.
It’s not the verb ‘squander,’ though that probably played a role in naming this parable about the prodigal, but the word the CSB translates as “foolish,” and other translations use “riotous.” that the word prodigal probably is derived from. So a prodigal person is a wasteful person that lives for pleasure and spends lots of money on questionable and immoral kinds of pleasures. As we see later in the parable, the older brother of the prodigal states that his younger brother spent much of his money on prostitutes.
#3 – Finally, this is not a parable about ONE son – it is a parable about TWO sons. At the end of the parable, one of the sons is rescued and reconciled to his father, and one of the sons is alienated from his father – this is significant…especially when you realize that it is the son who spent all of his inheritance on prostitutes that is in good relationship with the father, and the son who has lived a seeming responsible and good life who is alienated and separated from the father.
Let’s read these parables, noting in EVERY instance, the joy of Heaven and the joy of the father, when the lost are found.
So – the elder brother is basically the bad guy in the parable of the prodigal son – though he looked responsible, he was living for himself. Looking back on this parable through the lens of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, we see that Jesus Himself was the true and good elder brother that we needed to bring us back to the Father. Here’s Tim Keller to help us see that:
You have to see what it cost God to bring you home. “Well,” you say, “it didn’t seem to cost him anything. The kid came home with a kind of desire to compensate, we think, but the father wouldn’t let him, so it was free! It didn’t cost anything!” No, it didn’t cost him anything, but it cost somebody else a lot.
At the very end, Jesus gives us the hint. In the last verse, when the father says, “… everything I have is yours,” that’s literally true. Why? Because the younger brother had liquidated and had spent every bit of his inheritance. Now every single thing the father had belonged to the elder brother. Every robe, every ring, and every fatted calf belonged to the elder brother.
The younger brother could only be brought back into the family at the enormous cost and expense to the elder brother. It’s not free! It’s not simple to be saved. Somebody has to pay. The elder brother has to pay, and he’s furious about it. Why does Jesus put in such a nasty elder brother? Because he is showing the Pharisees what they look like.
What would a true elder brother have done? A true elder brother would have seen the agony of the father and said, “Father, I’m going to go out and look for my brother, and if he has ruined himself and he has squandered all his inheritance, I’ll bring him home, even at my own expense.” That would have been a true elder brother.
Poor kid! He doesn’t have a true elder brother, but we do. Jesus Christ gives us a bad elder brother so we’ll long for the right one. We don’t just need an elder brother to go out into the next town to find us. We need someone to come from heaven to earth. We don’t need an elder brother who brings us into God’s family just at the cost of his wallet but at the cost of his life.
On the cross, Jesus Christ was stripped naked so we could be clothed in the robe of honor we don’t deserve. On the cross, Jesus called, “My God, my God,” the only time he never called him Father, because at that moment he was not being treated as a son, so you and I could be. There he paid the debt that, deep down, we all know we owe.
He had everything the Father had, but he shares it with us, and he brings us home at enormous expense to himself. When you see that … To the degree you see that, it will change the absolute motivation, your whole approach toward God, and you won’t be into self-discovery or moral conformity. You’ll be a Christian.
Timothy J. Keller, The Timothy Keller Sermon Archive (New York City: Redeemer Presbyterian Church, 2013).
Bible Memory verses for the month of July: 47 “I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them: 48 He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. When the flood came, the river crashed against that house and couldn’t shake it, because it was well built.” Luke 6:47-48
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