Bella Vista Church of Christ



Harold Akridge


The Prodigal Son


“I once was lost but now I am found”


  The parable of the prodigal Son in Luke15:11-32 may be the most read and preached about parable in the New Testament. Jesus begins the parable in (15:11-13) “There was a man who had two sons. The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So, his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons. A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land.” Today this young son may have left for Chicago or New York to experience wild living." This young, immature son has one ambition, to see and do things that can only be found in the big city.


  The Amish have a practice called “Rumspringa.” This is a practice that describes the years between the passage into adulthood (age 16) and baptism into the church (usually age 18-22). During this period, the young adult is relatively free from parental control and not yet pledged submission to church rule. They are free to explore the far countries worldly values and practices. Because of this practice some Amish young people leave their faith and never return to their religious practices. We in the churches of Christ also experience the loss of many young people to worldly living around this age who are also seeking the allusions created by Satan.


  The young son in the parable squanders his entire inheritance on wild and excessive living. He has experimented with all the vices until he runs out of money. He is no longer that carefree young man who left home full of excitement about his future. He is now old beyond his years. He is suffering the hardships of being penniless, dirty, homeless, eating out of dumpsters, and begging on the street. In his fantasy about the pleasures he would enjoy in the distant country none of these gruesome facts existed. He is facing the reality of his horrible choices. He must swallow his pride and go home to his father and accept whatever punishment that he is given. Lonely and dejected he begins his long walk home. He is receiving the consequences of his bad choices. “You can do anything in this world if you are prepared to take the consequences.” –Somerset Maugham


  Every day his lonely father stood at the road watching for his young son to return. The father was beginning to lose faith that he would ever see his young son again. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” (15:20-21)


  In 1667 Rembrandt completed his famous painting “The Return of the Prodigal Son.” In the painting, the prodigal kneels before the forgiving father in a state of emotional, financial, and relational destitution. We can hear the tearful son, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” (15:20-21) The young son didn’t ask for his father’s forgiveness, he only asked for a job as a servant. He knew his life would be better as his father’s servant, than the terrible existence he had been living. This defeated young son came home into the warm arms of his loving compassionate father, who was just happy he was home. His father did not say “I told you so, I knew you would come home broke and busted, begging for my help.” No, his father showed his son the true meaning of agape love. His father gave him his old room back and had a large welcome home party for him.


  The father in the parable is an example of the earthly father we all want and need, and the father every man hopes to be. This is the Father we have in heaven. We are all lost, broken, struggling sinners, living in the far country on our way home, needing His Forgiveness, His Mercy, His Grace. Our heavenly Father waits patiently for us with open arms.  

Amazing isn't it...

Forgiveness, mercy and grace are things

we all want but hesitate to give?


—Harold Akridge,

   Bella Vista church of Christ