Lessons from the Prodigal Son

Text: Luke 15:11-32

Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son is one of His more well-known parables. There are several lessons we can learn from it – both from the prodigal son and his brother. This lesson examines a few of these lessons.


  • The younger son demanded his share of the inheritance early (Luke 15:11-12)
  • The father could have taken this as an insult, but instead granted the request – the son would have one day received this inheritance, but did not want to wait
  • Service to God requires patience (Hebrews 6:12) – Satan tempts us to accept an inferior reward now instead of a better reward later (Matthew 16:26)


  • The prodigal son “squandered his estate with loose living” (Luke 15:13)
  • Eventually he was not able to support his worldly lifestyle
  • Any “benefit” we might receive from worldly living is only temporary (Hebrews 11:24-26) – Why? … because the world itself is passing away (1 John 2:17)


  • Once his estate was gone, a famine came and this young man become impoverished (Luke 15:14-16)
  • He went from being a privileged son of a rich man to wishing he could eat the pig’s food
  • The lesson is that suffering can happen to anyone (Job 5:6-7) – suffering ought to cause us to turn to God (Matthew 11:28-30)


  • This young man finally “came to his senses” (Luke 15:17)
  • He realized that the best decision was to return to his father
  • Choosing to follow God (or return to Him) is a rational decision – this world is temporary (1 John 2:17); it is foolish to forfeit our souls for anything in the world (Matthew 16:26); salvation is only in Christ (Acts 4:12; cf. John 14:6)


  • The prodigal son decided to return to his father, but he was willing to be a servant (Luke 15:18-19, 21)
  • He understood what he deserved – was content to be no more than a servant
  • We must be humble in following the Lord (Micah 6:8) – understand what we deserve (Romans 6:23); be content to serve Him (Romans 6:17-18)


  • The return of the prodigal son was an occasion for rejoicing (Luke 15:22-24, 32)
  • In the parables before this, Jesus said that a sinner’s repentance is a cause for great joy (Luke 15:7, 10)
  • Whenever an erring Christian returns, we must welcome him back (2 Corinthians 2:6-8) – rejoicing in such a case is a necessity (Luke 15:32)


  • The younger son had a sense of entitlement – he wanted his inheritance early (Luke 15:12)
  • The older son also had a sense of entitlement – he wanted recognition for his service (Luke 15:25-30)
  • Our motivation in serving God should not be to receive the recognition of men (Matthew 6:1) – we need the attitude of “unworthy slaves” (Luke 17:10); obedience is not exceptional, but expected


  • The father reminded the older son of his inheritance (Luke 15:31)
  • Nothing done for the younger son would change that
  • We have an inheritance from God in heaven (1 Peter 1:3-4) – no one’s actions can jeopardize our reward (John 14:2); we can have full assurance (Hebrews 10:22)

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