– by Nico Bougas

In one of the best-known parables that Jesus told, He spoke of a man who had two sons. The younger of the two came one day to his father and said, “Give me my inheritance…”

This boy lived in a well-to-do home. He had everything he needed, but he was dissatisfied. The grass looked greener on the other side, he wanted more. It is a funny trait in mankind that the more we get, the more we want. We hear stories of the rich and famous and we envy them as though they had all that life has to offer. But are they really satisfied with all they have got? The multi-millionaire Rockefeller was asked how much it took to be satisfied, he replied, “Just a little more…!”

The young man in this parable wanted his inheritance and he wanted it now. He could not wait until his father died. He could not wait one more minute. He wanted to go out and enjoy the good life. For him the good life was going to be lived in a far country.

He wanted to break away from his family and from his father’s direction and restraint. He thought that if he could go it alone and do as he pleased, he would be so much better off. And this is exactly how many people react to the claims of God on their lives. They say, “We want to run our own ship. We want to be captain of our own fate.”

God does not force His way into our lives. He allows us a free choice. But breaking away from God’s influence on our lives does not bring us freedom. In fact Jesus said that the only way to real freedom is through Him.

This father generously gave the son what he wanted. He didn’t have to. But he loved his son and would not withhold anything from him. It would have been better if he had withheld this request. Sometimes we have difficulty understanding why God seems to withhold His blessings from us. We fail to understand that God is in control. He knows what is best for us.  

Famine In The Land
And so this young man set off for a far country. He wanted to get away from his father and his family. You do not have to journey to a far country to be separated from God. You can mix with the people of God, move in religious circles, perform religious duties, and still be far from God.

In that far country he wasted his money with wild living. And before long, his supply of cash ran out. The trouble with this world’s riches is that they are not permanent. They are not inexhaustible. Whatever it is of this world’s goods that you have set your heart on, it will run out. Your fame can diminish, your health can fade, and your riches can be spent. And when they do you are left with a famine.

When you are in a far country away from God, there is always a famine. You may survive on substitutes for a while but in the end you are going to realise your need for God. God has made us for Himself and our hearts cannot find rest until they find rest in Him.

His sunshine friends disappeared and he had to face reality. He was in need, he was hungry, and he couldn’t satisfy his hunger. Each of us has a hunger for God. This hunger cannot be satisfied by your friends, your banker, your university professor, or your political party. Only God can meet your spiritual needs.

Feeding With The Pigs
He was desperate. So he went out and got hired to feed the pigs. He wanted to get away from his father in order to be free, but now he was finding that freedom isn’t free. He was enslaved to a far less generous master. The ultimate insult to a Jew was to have to work with dirty, greedy, noisy pigs. It was the lowest of the low. Many a person who has rebelled against our Heavenly Father has found himself completely enslaved to a far harsher taskmaster.

He did not want to live with his father; now he was compelled to live with the pigs. The one who will not be a son to the Heavenly Father must be a slave to sin and satan. There is no master so cruel as satan, no yoke so heavy as sin. The pigs were better off than he was. They were nourished and satisfied with husks. But he knew that he could get so much better.

He had started off with such high hopes. Life seemed to promise him so much, but gave him so little. It had promised him pleasure and paid him with pain, promised him the best, but paid him the worst. But God pays as He promises. He promises you a rich and satisfying life.

Facing Facts
When he came to his senses, he knew that he was not himself as long as he was far away from God and rebelling against God. After all, there is in every man something better than a fool, a spendthrift, a pig-tender. A man’s real self is never satisfied with sinning and sinking. He knows he is fitted for something better and purer.

Eventually he realised that this was crazy. “How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger.?”

He acknowledged that he was without excuse. He didn’t try to camouflage his situation, he openly admitted that he had sinned.

The first step back towards God our Father is to admit that we are sinners in need of salvation and that we are without excuse. You can paint the poison any colour you like and change the label, but it is still poison. It is still sin that separates us from God. And we are no longer worthy to be called children of God. But God shows His infinite love and mercy to us and that is exactly what He calls us “See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us His children…” ­–1 John 3:1.

This young man went out a son, but he would be glad to return as a servant. Some Christians want to be called sons of God, but do not want to be servants. They are not willing to serve the King of kings. They had no objection to serving the prince of this world. 

Before he saw his father, his father saw him. God sees the returning sinner before the sinner sees him. God loves us with an everlasting love. He longs for us to return to Him far more than we want to return to Him. He seeks after us before we ever think of seeking Him.

We may be like that prodigal son wearily tramping our way back from a far country, step after step. But our God is waiting for us. He longs for us to return to Him. When we do give some indication of turning back to Him He is ready to run to us to receive us back into the fold.

You may have wandered far away from God. But today he is ready to receive you back into the fold. He has never disinherited you. He wants to welcome you back into the family. He wants to give you the honour, the acceptance, the privileges of being back in the family.

Heaven throws a party when some poor sinner returns to the fold. The angels of Heaven rejoice. They must have great difficulty understanding how we can be so misled, so foolish as to journey into a far country to get away from such a loving Heavenly Father. But when we are received back, our Heavenly Father lavishes us with the very best. He clothes us with the robe of righteousness; He puts a ring of authority on our finger, and shoes on our feet to send us on our way to spread the Good News. He kills the fatted calf that we can eat and be satisfied. There is great rejoicing in the presence of Heaven. It is a celebration that never ends.

How do you stand? Are you ready to meet God? Do you know your sins are forgiven? Are you sure that you have eternal life? Is your name written down in the Lamb’s Book of Life? I urge you today to make sure. Commit your life to Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. Receive all the wisdom, the joy, the riches, the power, the grace, and the mercy that is available to you. How do you do so? How do you become a child of the king?

Recognise that God loves you and longs for you to return to Him. Admit that you are a sinner and have broken His law and want to turn from your sin and life of rebellion against God. Then simply ask Jesus Christ to come into your heart and life. “But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God.” – John 1:12.

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