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See Also - Forgiveness by Ruth Cortright Cramer

The Parable of the Forgiving Father

The Parable used in Luke 15:11-32 is commonly called "the Parable of the Prodigal Son." However, this Parable beautifully represents God's love for His children in a story of a giving father who cares equally for both of his sons and forgives each of them freely when they walk away from him or each other and return after realizing the great love of their father.

Luke 15:11-12 And he said, A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.

The younger son asked for his inheritance and the loving father gave to both sons.

Luke 15:13-16 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.

Feeding swine was as low as you could go in the Bible lands. The one who fed the pigs was counted by the farmer as one of the pigs when inventory was taken. This son had hit rock bottom.

Luke 15:17-19 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.

This son finally realizes the care and love of his father and returns to ask forgiveness.

Luke 15:20-22 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:

The father saw the son "a great way off." He was looking for him to return! The son began his rehearsed speech, but the father cut him off having already forgiven him and began immediately to bless him. The ring spoken of was a family signet used to seal business deals for the family. Shoes on his feet - shoes were given when land was transferred. The father not only forgave the son for wasting that which he had previously given him but began giving him more.

Luke 15:23-28 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing. And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him.

The second son was not happy that his brother had returned after wasting that which his father had given him and he refused to come into the house to celebrate. The loving father came out to him. Once again the emphasis is on the love, care, and concern of the father.

Luke 15:29-30 And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.

The second son said "this thy son." He did not even call him his brother.

Luke 15:31-32 And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

The father said "this thy brother" reminding him of his family relationship and encouraged him to come and rejoice with the family. The one point of this Parable is that our heavenly father is a caring, loving, forgiving, and giving father.

Figures of Speech

Figures of speech are grammatical usages which depart from literal language to call attention to themselves. The Word of God is to be accepted literally whenever and wherever possible. Figures of speech are used in the Bible and have a God-designed emphasis which must be understood in order to fully obtain the impact of the Word. Men are prone to use figures of speech haphazardly, but in the Word of God figures of speech are used with divine design. God uses figures of speech to mark that which is to be emphasized in His Word.


A figure of speech that is used often in the gospels is the figure "Parabola" or "Parable." A Parable is an extended Simile. A Simile is a figure of comparison that declares that one thing resembles another. As a Simile, the Parable represents a likeness in one point only. The resemblance is to be sought for in the scope of the context, and in the one great truth which is presented, and the one important lesson which is taught: and not in all the minute details with which these happen to be associated. The details can be very instructive; for example, the Parable of the Sower. Still the Parable illustrates the one point of how people receive God's Word. The common idea that Parables are intended to make things clear, plain and simple is not true. The Word of God declares that they were spoken that the truth might be veiled from those who "seeing, see not: and hearing, hear not." Therefore they are among the most difficult portions of God's Word.

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As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country. Proverbs 25:25

Updated October 2009
Michael Cortright