3 Lessons The Prodigal Son Parable Can Teach You About Life

The Parable of the Prodigal Son is one of the well-known parables of Jesus and teaches us life lessons for a beautiful Christian journey.

Parable of the Prodigal Son Summary

A father 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 for a job.

When the father sees him arriving home, he calls for a celebration that 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 has been found.

You can read the full Prodigal Son Parable HERE.

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.

What is a Prodigal?

A prodigal is a person who squanders money recklessly and selfishly, 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 his wayward ways.

What is the main message of the Prodigal Son?

The main message of The Prodigal Son 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. 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” older son or the prodigal son.

3 LESSONS FROM THE PRODIGAL SON:

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 older son. Other times, we may have let the priorities of the world come between us and God and we may relate more to the prodigal son. In any case, the parable speaks to all of us, no matter our perspective.

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 him for forgiveness and welcome him into your heart. He forgives you!

The “Good” Child

If you truly ARE the ‘good’ child, 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, 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.

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 you currently are to God, 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 prodigal child or the good child, 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.

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.”

Attributed to Mother Teresa

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 Lost Son – 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.’”

If you love the Parables…

If you love the parables, check out our others as well as The Parables of Jesus Explained:

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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 Parable Printable Coloring Booklet Front Cover

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.

2 thoughts on “3 Lessons The Prodigal Son Parable Can Teach You About Life”

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

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