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The Parable of the Prodigal Son

Matthew 21:28-32


Greetings to all of those who are about to read this story of the Prodigal Son. I believe this is one of the most important parables in the New Testament. It has several levels of meaning and we will try to get to all of them. Let us begin with the parable as written in the holy Scriptures.


            To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: "A man had two sons. The younger son told his father, 'I want my share of your estate 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, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.

            "When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, 'At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! I will go home to my father and say, "Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.'"

            "So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.'

            "But his father said to the servants, 'Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but how he is found.' So the party began.

            " Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, and he asked one of the servants what was going on. 'Your brother is back,' he was told, 'and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.'

            "The older brother was angry and wouldn't go in. His father came out and begged him, but he replied, 'All these years I've slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!'

            "His father said to him, 'Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now is found!'" NLT.


Now, what have we here? Three people; a man and his two sons. What does this mean for our parable of the Prodigal Son? First, it means that his two sons are with him wherever he may live. Next, we must consider who these three men are. Are they supposed to be related to one another? Probably so. So, are these three men married? It does not appear so, even though the father of these two boys had a wife at one time. We can surmise these two boys are separated in age by a few years. However, that is all we can surmise, since they are called the younger son and the eldest son throughout the parable. What are we to make of these two young men? One, they are from a hardworking family, and two, they are hardworking young men. One son; however, wants to take half of his father's estate and leave to go to a distant land. The eldest son wants to stay with his father and continue to work in the family's fields. Let us look at this in a different light.   

            What if these three men lived someplace far from Earth; but, not in heaven? Where might this land be? It would have to be in Hades! Where is Hades, you might ask? It is somewhere between heaven and Earth in a distant place in deep space, and it is a spiritual abode, not a physical abode.          

            Although Hades is believed to be in the underworld, it is instead, a place where the spirits of the so-called dead live until they are ready to return to Earth and live another lifetime. Hades is necessary for Souls to recuperate after living one lifetime on Earth or after spending a thousand years or more in Hell. Eventually, all Souls will return to their Father in Heaven; but, not until they have finally, once and for all time, turned away from Satan and his ways.

            Now, returning to our three single men; what can we deduce from their story? First, we have a father and his two sons, and both sons believe they have a right to their father's estate. The youngest of his two sons demands that his father give him half of his estate and then leaves for a distant land. Who has not desired to do the same in their lives? We all have at one time or another thought of such an adventure. Is it not a bit selfish of us to want to do this? It most definitely is.

            The eldest son is not that way. He stays home with his father and toils away in the hot and sometimes not-so-hot fields to help his father grow his crops. The eldest son intends to inherit his father's estate now that his brother has left the estate to pursue his dreams. However, what then happens surprises the eldest son. He comes home after toiling all day in the hot sun and finds his brother has returned from a distant land. What is the eldest son to do now that his father has extended open arms to his brother, welcoming him home without question? He complains to his father about this sudden turn of events. Still, his father tells his eldest son to celebrate his brother's homecoming since his brother was once lost and is now found!

            Where has his youngest son been all of this time? Where exactly is this distant land? Could it be Earth since they are all living in Hades? We should not be surprised.

            So, this parable concerns a young man who returns to Earth to live another lifetime, where he does not waste any time enjoying the fruits of Satan's world. He eventually dies of starvation and malnutrition after wasting all of his spiritual wealth on the carnal lusts he cherished so much. After the father's youngest son dies on Earth, his Soul returns to Hades and rejoins his father and older brother who are still in Hades, in no hurry to be reborn. This makes the father's eldest son rather upset, but not his father who is relieved that his youngest son did not end up in Hell to be tormented for a thousand years.


End of Part I

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