And he said, A certain man had two sons:…
I. THE PRODIGAL'S DEPARTURE. He disliked all parental restraint. He broke the principle involved in the "first commandment with promise." In his father's house vice was out of place. He made the world his servant, little thinking how soon he should be under its most cruel tyranny. He was sadly deceived. We must never forget that all wasting of our gifts is a sin. Man is made for a noble purpose; his duties touch eternity, and are given for use in time. Shall we, for even a moment, dare assume that it is no concern of ours how we employ our powers?
II. THE PRODIGAL'S DESPAIR. His situation is portrayed by the one graphic description of Christ: "There arose a mighty famine in that land." We are pointed to the darkest word in human history, precursor of the pestilence and death. It tells of the stony bed where the brook once ran. It tells of the fruitless trees, with branches prematurely stripped of their foliage." It tells of the grass of summer all burned away. His property was all wasted, and despair was settling down upon his soul. His life was a failure in such a land; his "riotous living" was beginning its curse. No want of the human heart, good or bad, is ever satisfied here. Even the disciple's anticipation is of a time when he shall awake in Christ's likeness. Just so, the nobler desires turned earthward are more insatiate still. Epicure was never satisfied. The sustenance of vicious desires only awakens new ones. The drunkard drinks deeper week by week, his thirst deepened with every draught of the mocking cup. The miser's lust burns fiercer as the gold in his chest becomes heavier.
III. THE PRODIGAL'S RESOLUTION. We are told of an English soldier, wounded and faint, left by the retreating army to die. Helpless and motionless he lay, expecting his death, screened from the burning sun by an overhanging cliff. While his strength was ebbing fast there alighted just before his face a greedy, ravenous bird, waiting for the end to come. Thoughts of himself becoming the prey of that loathsome bird gave him a now energy, and he slowly arose and at last was saved. In almost a like helpless state the prodigal "came to himself." Two thoughts convinced him of his insane course — the abjectness of his misery, perishing with hunger; and the remembrance of the joys in the father's house. It was thus the dissolute John Newton became himself again. But for a like critical resolve John Bunyan would ever have remained the same worthless profligate as in his youth. A moral coward may face the cannon's mouth, but only a hero will turn from his sin. There is a splendour in such a moral conflict. Caesar's political fats depended upon his passing the Rubicon; and yet the same resolution is demanded in the ease of every sinner.
IV. THE PRODIGAL'S WELCOME. Words are powerless in declaring the richness of such a reception. The prodigal loved his father because his father had first loved him. Day after day the hired servants had asked in vain, When will his love grow less? But it never ceased.
(D. O. Mears.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And he said, A certain man had two sons: