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The Parable of the Prodigal Son: Part One

Rev. Michael Calvert, Ph.D., July 28, 2019
Part of the The Parables of Jesus series.

Our study of the parables of our Lord Jesus continues this coming Sunday as we begin our investigation of what is, perhaps, the most beloved parable of all those stories He told. It is known by many names, the most popular of which is ‘The Parable of the Prodigal Son.’ This compelling story has also been called ‘The Parable of the Lost Son,’ ‘The Parable of the Loving Father,’ The Parable of the Waiting Father,’ and ‘The Parable of the Two Sons.’ We discover it in Luke 15:11-32.

The parable of the prodigal son has been universally praised and extolled, both inside and outside the believing Church. It has been described as “The crown and pearl of all parables,” and “The most divinely tender and most humanly touching story ever told on earth.” Charles Dickens called it, “the finest story ever written.”

Biblical scholars have referred to this parable in the most exalted of terms as well. One has claimed that, “there is no more powerful a picture of the forgiving love of God or of the motivation behind Jesus’ ministry within the Bible,” and it is an unsurpassed portrait of “Jesus’ ministry to the lost.” Others have recognized this parable as the most conspicuous display of the love of God for sinners, with its central theme being “the Father’s yearning love for the lost.”

In fact, this parable is so very rich and important that we are going to take our time probing its magnificent depths. Our plan for this Sunday is to look at the parable’s setting, and then trace the story as Jesus told it through the first of the three acts in this amazing drama, which will take us up to verse 16. And then, the Lord willing, the next two Sundays we will consider the final two sections of the parable which will take us through the end of chapter 15.