Most of us know the story of the Prodigal Son. I think there were two parts to the story, Jesus had two lessons in mind. First, God loves us all like sons and daughters. And, no matter what we have done in life, He still loves us and wants us to come back to Him. As it says in 2 Peter 3:9, He is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” Second, we should not be jealous of others and we need to be humble and not self-righteous, because we all fall short. As Paul says in Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Then He said: “A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood. And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.
“But when 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! I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.” ‘
“And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still 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 to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
“But the father said to his servants, ‘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 fatted calf here 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 older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’
“But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’
“And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’ “
As I mentioned, God does not want any to perish. That is why Jesus came to this earth. We are all sinners, we are all prodigals. Christ came to pay for our sins and save us. If we accept His grace and trust in Him we will be saved and have eternal life. Just as the father in the parable ran to his son with open arms and celebrated his return, God will do the same. As Jesus told in the parable of the lost sheep, He will seek that one that is lost and rejoice when he or she is found.
“Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.”
God goes out of His way to save those who are lost. He gives us every opportunity to accept His grace. Jesus paid for our sins by dying on the cross and He was raised from the dead to conquer sin and death. If we trust in Him we will conquer sin and death too.
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
We all have fallen short. We all sin. Jesus died for all. We need to remember that. No matter what we have done, we can be saved. Nothing we do can save us. If you think you are beyond saving, that is the devil feeding you lies. Jesus died for you. If you think you’ve done good deeds and you don’t need Jesus, again, that is the devil feeding you lies. God sees our heart. That is what He is concerned with. That was Jesus’ point as He talked about the older brother in the parable. He was angry when his father celebrated that his brother repented and came back to him. He should have been celebrating too instead of grumbling about all the work he did, but like his father said, all he had was his. As believers, we should rejoice when someone comes to faith. We should not compare ourselves to others or think ourselves any better than them. We should forgive and show grace as Christ did for us.
Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
God sees our hearts; He sees our motives. As the Bible says, God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. Jesus came to pay for our sins, all of them. He died once for all. No one is too good or not good enough to receive God’s grace. If we accept it, we have it.