A Pig Preaches Forgiveness
Prodigal sons need forgiveness and while caring for pigs the Prodigal of this parable came to himself and decided to return to the father. The account is in Luke 15:11-32. "A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing. And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him. And he answering said to 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: But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found. (Luke 15:11-32)
The story of the Prodigal Son is not glorious. He spent his father's money to enjoy the pleasures of sin. When the good time was over he went home and was forgiven by his loving father. The sad truth is this young man was lost and his older brother was lost too. This is a parable of concern for the lost. It would be wonderful if every prodigal son or daughter that found themselves in the pig pen of sin would come to themselves and come home to God for forgiveness. Sadly some never learn the lesson of repentance and restoration to God. But, the good news is that many prodigals do return home to God.
The message of forgiveness is that you do not have to die in the far country. Prodigals, like all of us, have no promise of tomorrow. The return to forgiveness should take place now, while there is strength and opportunity to come home. The Prodigal of Luke 15 still had both the strength and the opportunity to come home, even while among the pigs. However, it is dangerous for anyone to wait even one day to make that return journey. "Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. "For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away." (James 4:14) Some prodigals intend to come home but they wait too late. Prodigals should come home now so that when they die they can be with Jesus. If we die in our sins we cannot go and be with Him. "Then Jesus said to them again, "I am going away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin. Where I go you cannot come." (John 8:21) You can choose not to allow sin to reign over you. Paul wrote, "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace." (Romans 6:12-14)
Prodigals do come to themselves and come home. The Prodigal Son in Luke 15 came to himself. While feeding pigs in the far country, which was a disgrace for a Jewish boy, "He came to himself, he said, 'How many of my father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!" (Luke 15:17) This young man finally did some rational thinking. He had allowed himself to be blinded by the god of the world. During this gospel age Paul wrote, "In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them." (2 Corinthians 4:4) This prodigal enjoyed the pleasures of sin but he finally realized that it was only for a season so he chose to return home. Moses "Chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season." (Hebrews 11:25) This young man chose to no longer walk, "As other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart." (Ephesians 4:17-18) Prodigals should come home now before they have persisted in sin so long they are not able to feel any guilt or shame and have no desire to come home. When that happens it is as if their conscience has been "seared as with a hot iron." (1 Timothy 4:2)
Let us be forgiving when a prodigal returns. While it is true that a returning prodigal must live with the scars and hurts of their past life styles we, as their brother's and sister's in Christ must be forgiving of them when they return home. God is willing to forgive those who return to him on His terms. "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9) We too must be willing to forgive. It is not easy for those hurt by one's sins to forgive and forget. But let us remember that he who shows no mercy to his brethren receives no mercy from God. Prodigal may come home, but brethren may be unwilling to forgive and forget. Would you welcome the returned Prodigal of Luke 15 into your home? Would you want your children to be with him? How many prodigals have returned and been forgiven by God, only to still be thought of and treated as a sinner by their brethren.
A prodigal can only be forgiven, he cannot undo the wrong. Once a sin is committed it is done. There is no such thing as undoing the wrong. That was the case with David and Bathsheba, with Joseph's brothers and with all of us. Joseph brother's "Said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us. And Reuben answered them, saying, Spake I not unto you, saying, Do not sin against the child; and ye would not hear? therefore, behold, also his blood is required." (Genesis 42:21-22) The idea that one can go into the far country of sin, stay as long as he wishes, and then return home and live happily ever after is a lie of the Devil. Sin always ends in misery, failure, despair and bondage.
Do you need to get out of the far country and return home? The Gospel of Christ is your way out of sin and back to God. If you believe in Jesus and want to receive the remission of your sins, then, repent and be baptized to "wash away your sins." (Acts 22:16) There is urgency in your gospel obedience. "For He says: "In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you." Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." (2 Corinthians 6:2) After you become a Christian do not allow yourself to become a prodigal. Rather, "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." (1 Corinthians 15:58) In Jesus Christ we have victory! No rational person ever regretted living a godly life. Multitudes have regretted ever going into the far country of sin.
By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, 306 Walnut Street, Greenville, Alabama 36037 USA