Jesus uses parables when teaching. Parables are earthly stories that have a heavenly meaning. Parables also have a spiritual meaning. In using parables, the Lord is able to teach a spiritual concept in such a way that even the most illiterate person is able to understand. The parable of the “Prodigal Son” is an earthly story that shows how pleased God is when a sinner repents and comes back to him. The “Prodigal Son” is a symbolic representation of Gods forgiveness or our sins, repentance of the sinner, and self-righteousness of everyman.
The younger son – the prodigal son – represents the sinner who comes to God in faith and repentance. The prodigal son is impatient with the restraints placed upon him. Therefore, he wants his inheritance now to spend as he pleases. He wants to be free from the household rule of his father. This shows that a sinner is far from God and does whatever he wants without thoughts of the consequences. The prodigal son “takes a journey into a far country”. In this journey, he spends all that was given to him in a wasteful manner. After spending all he has, he lives in destitute feeding the swine and eating their leftovers. He realizes that he has sinned and decides to repent and returns home to ask his father for forgiveness.
The father of the “Prodigal Son” represents God who gives his divine love and forgiveness. The father divides everything that he has between his two sons. The younger son – the prodigal son – takes all that he has and squanders it. Although the younger son sins, the father welcomes him home with open arms forgiving his sins. He shows his “fatherly love” by telling the servants “Bring forth the best robe and put it on him; and put a ring on his hands, and shoes on his feet.” “And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it, and let us be merry: For my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.” His father shows him unmerited love as God does all his children.
The Author's Reasons for undertaking the present Work -- -A Dissertation upon Vanity -- -Some Account of his Ancestors -- -He discovers that he is the youngest Son of the youngest Son for five Generations -- -Young Franklin is at first destined for the Church -- -His Father soon after takes him from School and employs him as an Assistant in making Candles, Etc. -- -He is desirous of being a Sailor ...
The older son is a representation of the self-righteousness of everyman. The older son faithfully remains home working for his father. He is upset by the generous welcome of his younger brother back home. He complains about the compassion that is shown to the prodigal son. He tells 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.” Although his father tells him that he should be happy that his brother has returned, the older brother still looks down on his brother as an unworthy person. The older brother symbolizes how everyman view sinners as outcasts and not worthy of God’s love.
The spiritual condition of the prodigal son or sinner is one of death since they absent from God and then returning to obedience to God. The spirit is alive again when the sinner returns to obedience. The “Prodigal Son” shows that a sinful life is not fulfilling and eventually leads to destruction. The prodigal son is determined to do what he wants, which leads to a destructive path. However, God – as shown by as the father -awaits with loving-kindness to welcome and give forgiveness for sinful acts.