The famous author Charles Dickens said that the parable of the prodigal son was the greatest short story ever written, and I tend to agree with him.
The story, as you probably remember, is of a son who left his Father’s home, and “wasted his possessions with prodigal [which is a word that means ‘wasteful’] living” (Luke 15:13 NKJV).
But then the prodigal son returned to the Father and confessed to Him: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son” (Luke 15:21 ESV).
Let’s consider these confessions of the prodigal son.
First the prodigal son confessed, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you.” The prodigal son was right that he had sinned. The fact is that we all have sinned.
The apostle Paul said, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23 ESV).
Likewise, the apostle John said: “If we say we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar. His word has no place in our lives.” (1 John 1:8-10 NIRV).
And Solomon said: “there is no one who does not sin” (1 Kings 8:46 ESV), and, “Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins” (Ecclesiastes 7:20 NASB).
Second, notice that the prodigal son confessed, “I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” Once again, the prodigal son was right. He was not worthy. And none of us are worthy.
Jesus said that even, “When you have done everything you are told to do, you should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done the work we should do’ ” (Luke 17:10 NCV).
But the good news is that God can make you worthy. Paul told the church in Thessalonica, “we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling” (2 Thessalonians 1:11 ESV).
Earl Edwards noted: “To be ‘considered worthy’… means to enjoy God’s forgiveness through His grace so that He considers us worthy even though we are guilty of sin.”
I love it that even though the prodigal son confessed, “I am not worthy to be called your son,” the Father went on to refer to him as “this son of mine,” saying to his slaves, “Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found” (Luke 15:22-24 NASB).
The Father forgave him, and thus made him worthy.
And that’s the promise of the parable of the prodigal son. The Father forgives!
The Bible says that God is “a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love” (Nehemiah 9:17 ESV).
By Jake King
(Jake King is the preacher at Seneca Church of Christ. He can be reached at (417) 776-3077.)