Jesus uses this story to try to teach a lesson to the Pharisees that everyone deserves the hope provided by a second chance in life if they are willing to swallow their pride, admit their mistakes, and ask for forgiveness. The younger, rebellious son, the story’s protagonist, discovers the forgiveness which is key to this parable, as he moves from ignorance to knowledge despite his pride. The stage is set for his fall in the beginning when he asks his father, “Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me” (8-9). He wants his inheritance in advance, which seems inappropriate and is an obvious foreshadowing of the mistakes that are to come. It quickly becomes evident that the boy’s inexperience with money will lead to his downfall when Jesus tells that he gathers all together and takes “his journey to a far country” (9).
He is out to live the good life as he wastes “his substance with riotous living” (9). This sinful life he is living would bring shame to his family, especially his father. This father/son relationship can already be associated with the God/man relationship. Man lives a sinful life that brings shame to God– man’s creator, or father– but it is the forgiveness God has that gives man hope. Jesus goes on to show the Pharisees how the aforementioned hope is so essential for the lost sinners of the world who desperately want a way out.
The story continues, “And there arose a mighty famine in the land and he began to want” (9). Nothing is going right for the boy. His money is all gone and he is forced to go to work in the fields feeding swine. This being the lowest possible rank in Jewish society, it suffices to say that he is in dire need of this hope, or second chance to make something good of his life. “And when he came to himself” (9). This statement marks the turning point of Jesus’ parable.
This is the point of illumination, when the boy realizes he has done wrong. It is at this point in the story that the boy moves from ignorance to knowledge and admits to himself that he was wrong and must return to his father and plead for forgiveness if he is to live a respectable life. He says, “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'” (9). It is easy to perceive from this statement that he is willing to swallow his pride in order to receive forgiveness from his father.
He puts his plan into effect and we once again see the similarities between the father/son and God/man relationships. Before the son arrives home, the father sees him coming and the story says the father “had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him” (9). The son tells the father what he has rehearsed telling him, but before he can finish, the father is gathering everything to celebrate his return. The father knows his son is sorry before he actually says it, and he appears to forgive him immediately and readily receives him back home.
This is how God works. He sees a sinner coming, knows his intentions, comes out to greet him, and immediately forgives him, while at the same time he welcomes him to heaven. The boy’s hope and the father’s forgiveness have given the prodigal son a second chance at life.Everyone in the story does not willingly accept the second chance .