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The return of the Prodigal Son

Posted in Bible, Parables, Religion on Monday, 11 February 2013

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This edited article about the Bible originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 128 published on 27 June 1964.

Prodigal son, picture, image, illustration

The return of the prodigal son

One of the most memorable stories ever told by Jesus was on the subject of what happened to a boy who left home. The boy had not been unhappy, but was restless and eager to see the world. His father was rich, and one day the boy said to him, “Father, I know you have left me a generous legacy in your will. But it would be much more use to me now than after you are dead. Do you think I could have my share right away?”

Thinking the matter over, the father came to the conclusion that it might content this restless son of his to have some money to manage, so he arranged for a very generous sum to be handed over to him.

The gift did not have the effect intended. Far from helping the son to settle down, it made him more eager to go off on his travels, and within a few days he had prepared for a long absence, and set out for a distant city in search of excitement.

For many months little was heard of the young man. Only rumours and gossip reached his anxious father, and these were very disturbing. He was, it was said, spending much more money than he could afford, and wasting his time in the very worst company that he could have found.

These rumours were true enough. So long as the young man had money to spend, there were plenty of young city folk who were willing to call themselves his friends and help him spend it. Only when his money was all gone did he find how worthless and short-lived their friendship was.

To make matters worse, the harvest failed that year, and the price of everything rose. It became difficult to get work, and the once wealthy adventurer now found himself a penniless refugee. He got a temporary job keeping pigs, and it was while he was watching them feed so busily that, half-starved as he was, he realized how rash and foolish he had been.

It was then that he decided to go home, and ask his father to take him on as a servant, since he no longer deserved to be called his son.

The father had never given up hope of his son’s return. Day after day he would go up to the rooftop and look anxiously along the road by which he had left. On the day that he did come back the father did not recognize the thin and bedraggled figure at first, but when he did so, he ran eagerly to meet him. He did not wait for explanations. He broke into his son’s carefully prepared apologies.

“Quickly!” he called to the servants, “A new suit! Some shoes! The family signet ring! Get a meal ready! We must celebrate tonight. My lost son is found; once as good as dead, he is alive again.”

The entire household rejoiced over his return – the entire household, that is, except for one person.

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