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The Prodigal Father: God’s Extravagant Love


Jesus told a remarkable story found in Luke 15:11ff about man with two sons. Even if you’ve done so many times in your life, go read it and then come back. I’ll just wait here.

So, what did you think? It’s not only one of the most memorable parables Jesus ever told, but it may very well be His most revealing. Providing a clear, dramatic picture, Jesus shows us our Father’s relentless love for his children.

Although Jesus never gave his story a title, this parable’s most familiar title over the years is “The Prodigal Son.” However, the actual definition of the word “prodigal” has been lost to some extent. According to Webster, the word means…

  1. Recklessly extravagant
  2. Characterized by wasteful expenditure: Lavish
  3. Yielding abundantly: Luxuriant

When you think how the father displays his love for his son in this story, the father is also the prodigal. The father is extravagant in the way he runs out to meet his returning son. The father is lavish in that he had his servants get a robe, a ring, and sandals for his repentant son. His decision to kill the fattened calf could be called a wasteful expenditure. The feast had yielded an abundance of food. When the son who had been such a disgraceful, disrespectful jerk returned home, the father spared no expense with his bountiful display of mercy and grace.

Our labeling this parable “The Prodigal Son” makes it easy for us to miss an important aspect: This is not so much a parable about the son as it is a parable about the Father. That’s right. It’s the Father who plays the lead role in this drama. The story begins, “A certain man had two sons…” Had it been a story about the son, the story would have begun, “A certain young man had a father and a brother…”

God, our Father, is the preeminent Prodigal. He is extravagant with his love. He is lavish with his grace. His plan is for us to have an abundant life—not luxuriant in the sense of being preoccupied with trivial luxuries and creature comforts like fancy cars, swanky hotels, and fat bank accounts—but more importantly, to provide us a life that is spiritually abundant.

He has every right deal harshly with us when we turn our back to Him, go our own way, and dishonor Him. However, because of the sacrificial death and resurrection of Christ, God can now welcomes us home by running to meet us and showering us with His outrageous grace and mercy. And we gladly honor and follow Him now because he first loved us.

We love, because He first loved us. – 1 John 4:19

Note: This eGrace has been inspired by the sermon series on “The Prodigal Father” by Pastor Frank Friedmann.

Andy Knight

About the Author

Andy is the user interface designer for YouVersion, the Bible App. He has a passion for sharing God's story of grace and freedom through the internet. Andy lives in Roswell, GA, with his wife and three sons. You can follow him on Twitter at @andyknight.