The parable of the prodigal son

Theparable of the prodigal son

Parablesformed the basis of the Jewish system of informal education theywere employed by Jewish elders, religious leaders, and parents topass crucial information to their audience. Jesus, having a Jewishbackground, had mastered the art of using parables. According to theteachings of Jesus Christ, parables were earthly stories thatillustrated or gave hidden messages about the kingdom of God (Bock,2011). Characters in parables are human beings, unlike in fableswhere animals, plants, and animated objects are used. Jesus usedparables to conceal the divine message from his enemies, to make theaudience think on their own, to distinguish the true followers frommasqueraders, to fulfill the ancient prophecies, and to enlightenthose who were willing to take up the message and spread it toothers. In this paper, I am going to narrow down to the parable ofthe prodigal son. I will also describe the key points, how itbrought out Jesus Christ’s characteristics, and what it meant tothe audience. In conclusion, I will point out the relevance of theparable to the contextual audience as well as to the contemporaryaudience.

Parableof the prodigal son

Thisparable features a young man who asks his father to give him someshare of the inheritance (Duval, 2012). The father does not hesitatebut grants him his wishes. The son then leaves his native country andtravels to a foreign nation where he leads an extravagant life.However, the good life is short-lived as the country is struck byhunger and he starts languishing in extreme poverty. Remorsefully, hedecides to go back to his father, plead for forgiveness, and evenyearn to become one of the servants. On arrival, the father gladlywelcomes him, dresses him in fine clothes, and a fattened sheep isslaughtered. This makes the elder son, who had remained faithful andserved the father, angry. However, the father asserts that thecelebration was justified since the younger son had come back fromthe dead.

Thisparable depicts the redemption mission of Jesus Christ (Bruce, 2009).It is the third parables after the parables of the Lost Sheep andthat of the Lost Coin, which Jesus narrates to the Jewish religiousleaders after they raise questions on his close association withsinners. The parable brings out the aspect of the divine love. Thefather is overwhelmed with joy on the return of his son. Theunlimited and the boundless grace of the kingdom of God are alsoportrayed. Through the parable, Jesus brings out how willing God isto receive sinners to his kingdom.

Theelder brother represented part of Jesus audience. The son prideshimself to be obedient and to have served his father faithfullyunlike the younger one. This is the same way Jewish religious leadersviewed themselves in relation to the sinners. They did not see theneed to repent since they believed that they were clean andrighteous this is the same scenario with the elder son who believedthat he was without any sin hence, deserved the treatment accordedto his brother.The son also represents the Pharisee`s feature ofcriticizing Jesus.


Fromthe description above, it is clear that the parable was not onlyrelevance to the contextual evidence of Jesus, but it is stillrelevant today. The parable was relevant then since it achieved itsaim in arousing the minds of the audience they visualized theparable, and finally deducted or came to a conclusion on what Jesusmeant. This eliminated cases of conflict between Jesus and the Jewishreligious leaders. Contemporarily, the parable carries the vitalmessage of repentance, forgiveness, and redemption (Bock, 2011).Individuals must be ready to redeem, repent their sins, and forgiveothers in readiness for the kingdom of God.


Bock,L. (2011) TheNIV Application Commentary: The Biblical Text…Luke…toContemporary Life.Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Bruce,F. (2009) Apostleof the Heart Set Free.Grand Rapids: Paternoster Press.

Duvall,J. (2012). GraspingGod’s Word: A Hands-On Approach to Reading, Interpreting, andApplying the Bible, 3rd ed.Grand Rapids: Zondervan Press.