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  • Writer's picturePastor DJ Harry

5 Reasons Why We Embrace the Parable of the Prodigal Son

Updated: Oct 29, 2019

Part of our Culture

His posterboard message was simple…John 3:16.

Though few people know his name, Rollen Stewart singlehandedly took one Bible verse and put it center stage at major sporting venues and important cultural events.  During the 70’s and 80’s he took his simple message to the 1977 NBA Finals, the 1979 MLB All-Star Game, the Indianpolis 500, at least one Super Bowl, as well as appearing at The Masters golf tournament in Augusta, GA.  It is reported that he also appeared at the royal wedding of Princess Diana!  Stewart’s message was not lost on the crowds and he quickly became a popular attraction whenever he appeared

Undoubtedly, John 3:16 stands as the most popular verse throughout recorded history.  The Parable of the Prodigal Son isn’t far behind! As parables go, it often tops the list of favorites among believers.  A son that rebels. A father that loves unconditionally.  A brother jealous of the celebration.  This parable draws us in to a torn relationship between a father and son and then exposes the cultural norms that should have finished off that relationship for ever! Instead, we see a son’s humble repentance and a father’s unconditional love!  Sadly, we also see a scorned brother with no desire to rejoice.  This parable is full of twists and turns.

The Connection

What makes this passage of Scripture, a parable, so popular?

1. It is relatable.  We love seeing the hurts, heartaches, and joys of our own lives played out before us in full drama.  Our humanity fully relates to the themes of this parable.  We all have experienced the hurt of a rebellious child, the heartach of painful life consequences, and the rejoicing over restored relationships.

2. It is cultural. Few parables immerse the reader in such a deep cultural context as the one we are about to study.  In fact, the full impact of this story is lost if we neglect to include the culture to which Christ was speaking.  These social cues help us to fit the puzzle together and make sense of the intricacies that are described within the text.

3. It is understandable.  It was given to be understood.  Many of the parable that Jesus used to teach truth also include a brief explanation afterward.   He wants the listeners to walk away with an understanding of the symbolism and meaning.  After this parable, Jesus simply turns away and begins talking to the disciples.  The parable is understandable as it was given.

4. It is teachable.  The themes and lessons from this story are easy to learn, understand, and pass on to the next generation of beleivers.  Children of all ages can glean from it’s truth and walk away with a better understanding of God’s unfailing love.

5. It is eternal.  The Parable of the Prodigal Son is so much more than just a story.  In fact, it is probably one of the most important passages of the entire New Testament!  I know that sounds bold….it is meant to be a bold statement.  No other passage of Scripture meaures up in significance as it relates to mankind and salvation.  Why? Because our Savior, the master teacher, carefully crafts this intricate story to explain and reveal detailed truths of salvation; no other writer in the New Testament captures the details of salvation with such clarity.

Focus on Salvation

Not only are there well-known passages of Scripture, there are also well-loved themes.  I would dare say that no theme of God’s Revelation is as well loved and dear to our hearts as God’s plan of salvation for mankind.  This story begins in the Garden of Eden; Adam and Eve living in a perfect world, untainted by the stain of sin.  Through their disobedience mankind is plunged into the depths of sin.  Fellowship has been broken.  The heart of man dwells in rebellion toward God.  Paul describes this perfectly in Romans 3:10-12 where he states “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”

Every man stands in rebellion to God and separated by spiritual death.  With hearts dominated by sin, mankind needed a Savior to free him from sin’s grip; enter Jesus Christ!  The very God that man rebelled against, lovingly and graciously offers a restored fellowship with God through Jesus Christ.  This gift is eternal life and the immediate position of sonship with the Father. As you know, though, no gift is free.  It was paid for with the precious blood of Jesus Christ, dying on the cross of Calvary for the sins of all mankind.

This well-loved theme creates its own set of questions.  How does a person come to saving faith? How can we be guilty and yet forgiven? Can someone know the truth but not be a believer? How is a sinner drawn to the Father? What does true repentance look like?  I’ll give you a hint…It looks just like the Parable of the Prodigal Son!

And we only scratched the surface!! Do you want to dig deeper into the Parable of the Prodigal Son? If so, you will love my newest project – “Salvation Through the Eyes of a Prodigal.” It is a big picture look at the greatest parable ever given through the lens of Biblical culture…and uncovering incredible truths about God’s gift of salvation.

For more information, go to and order a copy today!

God Bless!

Pastor DJ Harry

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