Acceptance, Forgiveness, and Hope in the Parable of the Prodigal Son
In the first century AD, Jesus told a parable to the Pharisees, who believed they were better than the common sinners of the world. This has since come to be referred to as The Parable of the Prodigal Son. In this parable, Jesus tells of a family consisting of a father and his two sons. The older son appears to be very well mannered and level headed, while the younger seems somewhat rebellious. Jesus uses this story to try to teach a lesson to the Pharisees that everyone deserves the hope provided by a second chance in life if they are willing to swallow their pride, admit their mistakes, and ask for forgiveness.
The younger, rebellious son, the story’s protagonist, discovers the forgiveness which is key to this parable, as he moves from ignorance to knowledge despite his pride. The stage is set for his fall in the beginning when he asks his father, “Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me'; (8-9). He wants his inheritance in advance, which seems inappropriate and is an obvious foreshadowing of the mistakes that are to come.
It quickly becomes evident that the boy’s inexperience with money will lead to his downfall when Jesus tells that he gathers all together and takes “his journey to a far country'; (9). He is out to live the good life as he wastes “his substance with riotous living'; (9). This sinful life he is living would bring shame to his family, especially his father. This father/son relationship can already be associated with the God/man relationship. Man lives a sinful life that brings shame to God-- man’s creator, or father-- but it is the forgiveness God has that gives man hope.
Jesus goes on to show the Pharisees how the aforementioned hope is so essential for the lost sinners of the world who desperately want a way out. The story continues, “And there arose a mighty famine in the land and he began to want'; (9). Nothing is going right for the boy. His money is all gone and he is forced to go to work in the fields feeding swine. This being the lowest possible rank in Jewish society, it suffices to say that he is in dire need of this hope, or second chance to make something good of his life.
“And when he came to himself…'; (9). This statement marks the turning point of Jesus’ parable. This is the point of illumination, when the boy realizes he has done wrong. It is at this point in the story that the boy moves from ignorance to knowledge and admits to...