The parable of the prodigal son is about two sons: one who comes to the end of his own resources and one who would not claim his father’s resources. The parable is also about the father’s unconditional love and the provisions in his home.
The younger son went to his father and said, “Give me the portion of goods that falls to me” (Luke 15:12, NKJV). The portion he received and then wasted represents his own interests: his talents, his abilities, everything he used to manage his life. He said, “I have intelligence, good wits, a good background. I can do it on my own.”
The younger son’s attitude describes many Christians today. How soon we come to the end of our own resources when things go south. We can figure our way out of some problems, but the time comes when famine strikes the soul.
You come to the end of yourself, not knowing which way to turn. Your friends can’t help you. You are left empty, hurting, with nothing left inside to draw upon. Your fight is gone, and all that remain are fear, depression, emptiness, hopelessness.
Are you still hanging around the devil’s pigpen, wallowing in emptiness, starving to death? That is what happened to the prodigal son. He had exhausted all his own resources, and he realized where all his self-reliance had brought him. What finally brought him to the end was remembering the abundant provisions in his father’s house. He said, “I’m starving here, but in my father’s house there is bread enough to spare!” He decided then and there to return home and appropriate his father’s bountiful provisions.
Nothing in this parable indicates that the prodigal came back because of love for his father. True, he was repentant; in fact, he fell on his knees, crying, “Father, I’m sorry! I’ve sinned against you and against God. I’m not worthy to come into your house,” but he never said, “Father, I came back because I love you!”
What is revealed here is that the God’s love for us is without strings; it is not dependent upon our loving him. He loved us even when we were far away from him in our hearts. That is unconditional love.
“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God” (1 John 3:1).