True, the prodigal son is a fictional character. But that fact does not rob him of universal value. For his story was the brainchild of the Son of God, Who said, “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6 ESV). In His short time on earth, Jesus did not waste a moment or a syllable. The earthly stories He created and told contain everlasting truths.
You may recall the prodigal as the arrogant, willful younger son who demanded his share of the inheritance before his father died. With it in hand, he left home for faraway places and wasted every penny on wild living. When he could no longer live high on the hog, he hired himself out as a swineherd, living so low that he lusted for the food the pigs ate.
Then the young man’s faith kicked in. Not, however, the come-what-may faith that would endure anything and everything.
While wallowing in the mud with hogs, he thought about home. The prodigal son remembered that, when he left, his father had not shut the door. Never had his father told him, “This door swings only one way. If you leave, don’t ever come back.”
Realizing that the door to his father’s house swung both ways was the faith that the wayward son latched onto. He could change his mind. He could turn around and go home. So he said to himself, “I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you’” (Luke 15:18 ESV).
In his repentance, the son’s mind scripted that as soon as he saw his father, he would also say, “I am no longer worthy to be called your son. But let me be like one of your hired workers” (Luke 15:19 ESV). That, though, is not how his father would ever think of him, for “while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him” (Luke 15:20 ESV).
The father, beside himself with joy, immediately gave his returning son a top-notch homecoming party, because “this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found” (Luke 15:24 ESV). The son whose fellowship he hungered for had come home, and nothing was too good for him.
When we choose to come home to God the Father, He welcomes us with unconditional love and acceptance.