The Parable of the Prodigal Son Life Lessons

The Parable of the Prodigal Son in the Bible (also known as the Parable of the Lost Son) is one of the well-known parables of Jesus and teaches us life lessons for a beautiful Christian journey.

The beauty of the Parable of the Prodigal Son is that whether you relate to the prodigal child or the good child, Jesus has good news for you!

Why did the father forgive the prodigal son? Did the parable of the lost son mean the good son’s loyal behavior was unappreciated? Lessons I’ve learned about this powerful parable.

Parable of the Prodigal Son Summary

The Parable of the Prodigal Son is from the New Testament in the Gospel of Luke.

It’s a story of a man who has two sons. His younger son asks for his share of money, then leaves town and squanders all the money, becoming destitute. He decides he would be better off being one of his father’s servants, so decides to return home, apologize to his father, and ask to become a hired servant.

When the father sees his youngest son arriving home, he calls for a celebration to kill the fatted calf, which angers the older brother, who had been faithful to his father all along.

The father consoles the older son. He has always loved him and everything the father has is his, but they must celebrate that the lost child, his younger brother, has been found.

You can read the full Parable of the Prodigal Son HERE.

What is a Prodigal?

A prodigal is a person who squanders money recklessly and selfishly, and then comes to regret their foolish behavior.

Today, the term ‘prodigal’ has come to represent the repentant return of a person, no matter the reasons they left in the first place.

The Prodigal Son is also called The Lost Son in most versions of the Bible because of the son’s wayward ways.

What is the context of the Parable of the Lost Son?

At the time Jesus spoke this parable, he was becoming more popular and had been drawing larger crowds of people, including tax collectors who were thought to be especially sinful.

The fact that Jesus was associating with and welcoming people who were normally scorned and shunned incited the Pharisees and other teachers of the law. They scoffed at Jesus, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Luke 15:2 NIV

Knowing what they were saying, Jesus went on to tell the Parable of the Lost Sheep, the Parable of the Lost Coin, and the Parable of the Lost Son, which was the third parable of this series.

These three parables all include a main character who rejoices at the return of a precious lost person, animal, or object.

What is the main message of the Parable of the Prodigal Son?

The main message of The Prodigal Son Parable is that it doesn’t matter how far we stray from our Heavenly Father or how much we squander the gifts he provides, he is always delighted when we turn back to him.

His unconditional love is waiting for us to return home where he greets us with open arms, as the father rejoiced in his son’s return.

Every lost child (a sinner, meaning all of us) who is found (turns to God) is cause for the greatest celebration.

Do you relate to the prodigal son or the “good” son?

One interesting aspect of the Parable of the Prodigal Son is that we either seem to relate to the ‘good’ child or the prodigal child. Our perspective can change at various points in our lives, so it’s helpful to understand the parable from both perspectives.

Do you relate to the Prodigal Son?

Do you relate to the “good” son?

Parable of the Prodigal Son Lesson:


Which son we relate to may change depending on where we are in our Christian journey. At times, we may be seeking God in earnest and relate to the elder son.

Other times, we may be lost in the far country and have let the priorities of the world come between us and God. In that case, we may relate more to the prodigal son.

1. Look Inside:

The Prodigal Child

If you relate to the prodigal son, look inside. Find God dwelling there. See the beauty he knows is inside, even if it’s hidden. See the worth he sees in you.

Ask your loving father for forgiveness and welcome him into your heart. He forgives you! Venture on a process of self-discovery to find your way back home.

The “Good” Child

If you truly ARE the ‘good’ child (the elder brother), look no further than within your own heart. Are you happy with how the Father is treating you on a daily basis – by providing food and shelter, a job, and a family? His unconditional love, comfort, and grace?

I believe the answer would be YES for most people. God has given you all you need – and more. You are blessed with your father’s love.

Be grateful for those gifts. Holding a grudge against the prodigal son accomplishes nothing more than putting a barrier between you and God.

Besides, one day it will be you needing forgiveness and you’ll be thankful when He welcomes you back with open arms.

2. Know that He is waiting for you with open arms:

The Prodigal Child

If you’re the prodigal son, which we all are at some point due to our sin, be grateful for the unconditional love and forgiveness that will greet you when you come back home. Make a concerted effort to curb further disobedience or disrespect.

The “Good” Child

No matter how close to God you currently are, rest assured that he loves you with agape love that’s greater than we can even comprehend.

When you fall, he’ll be there to catch you. When you stray (and you probably will), he welcomes you back. His love for you is independent of any other relationship he has. You are all his!

3. It’s only about you and God:

Whether you relate to the wayward son or the oldest son, the parable of the prodigal son is really about living your life between you and God and not worrying about keeping score with anyone else.

Be thankful he’s there for you when you follow him and will always be there to welcome you back if you fail him.

Divine Wisdom - Life Lessons from the Parables of Jesus promo - Jesus is calling you!

Are you seeking deeper faith, a more meaningful life, or greater inner peace?

Embark on a journey of spiritual growth and self-reflection through the timeless teachings found within the forty parables of Jesus Christ. Grab your ebook, softcover, or LARGE PRINT. Read FREE with Kindle Unlimited! Learn more on Amazon (affiliate link). Read a Sample!

Carry the Lesson with You:

Wherever you are in your Christian journey, the lesson is the same. It’s all about our personal relationship with God and recognizing that no matter our thoughts or actions, he loves us and welcomes us with open arms when we turn to him.

"In the end it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway." 

Written by Kent M. Keith but normally attributed to Mother Teresa

Prodigal Son for Youth Lesson Bundle

The points made above are also summarized in our Prodigal Son Printable Pocket Booklet and Coloring Booklet which are perfect for adult or youth groups. Prodigal Son Youth BUNDLE is the best value for the home or classroom.

Prodigal Son Commentary

You can find a theological commentary of The Parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15-21 from the notable theologian Matthew Henry in his Matthew Henry Concise Commentary. Refer to verses 15:11-21:22 NIV.

The Parable of the Prodigal Son in the Bible – Luke 15:11-21:22 NIV

Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

“Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

More Parables!

Do you love the parables as much as I do? You may enjoy reading life lessons on these others (listed below), these activities for adults and children, or this list of Parables and Meanings. More parable lessons are underway. See them all HERE!

Do you love journaling? Does writing down your personal reflections help you process your thoughts more fully? Perhaps these Christian writing journals will be helpful as you reflect on the life lessons of the parables.

Be the First to Know!

Check out the Printable Pocket Guides below…

The Prodigal Son Pocket Faith Guide Booklet
Our Prodigal Son Parable Printable Booklet is a one-page printable that helps keep this message of God’s love alive in your daily life. This is a NON-COLORING version.
Prodigal Son Printable Coloring Booklet overview image
Have some coloring fun for yourself or a group. Our Prodigal Son Parable Printable COLORING Booklet is a one-page printable that helps keep this message of God’s love alive in your daily life. This is a COLORING version.
Share the love!

2 thoughts on “The Parable of the Prodigal Son Life Lessons”

  1. Beautiful reflection on a confusing parable. We all fail but we are always forgiven by our Loving Creator. Please keep these coming.

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top