Luke 15 v 17. “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!”
Hello! What’s a nice Jewish boy like you doing in a pigsty? That could well have been the question anybody could have asked the young man, at this point in the story.
Imagine for a moment the impact of these words on the hearers, as Jesus told this parable. We should remember that all our Lord’s parables were counter-intuitive. That means that the stories and examples he told included items that were not the norm for the people listening. It might have been the opposite of what they would have expected. This parable is no different. Think of it: the rebellion of a young son; the acquiescence of the father; the immoral behaviour of the boy; then working in a pigsty. All these would elicit a response from a listener like: “no, this could never happen! This is not Jewish! This is not part of our society! This could never be!” And that, of course, is exactly what Jesus intended. He wanted his points to stick.
So here we find our young specimen of Jewish manhood in a far country, in a lost and dark space and no one to help him. What now?
Well, what happens now is quite wonderful. It is an example of what happened to you and me and it illustrates the mysterious workings of God in the human soul. It says very simply in v 17 “When he came to his senses”. How many parents in your circles wish their children would come to their senses in so many ways? And, if the truth be told, in all fairness some do. Some come to their senses and see that the drugs are destroying them, or they are shamefaced when the relationship everybody warned them against eventually falls apart. Then they seek help of some sort. But what happened to the boy in Jesus’ parable is rather different than the remorse that comes upon people when they are forced to admit they made a mistake. No! This boy, Jesus was speaking about, came to his senses in realising that he should never have left his father’s house. He came to his senses in regards to his father. He saw now what he had had. He also saw that what he had done was a sin against his father and against Heaven! (v 18). In our experience many can come to their senses about drugs, drink or immorality – or indeed about something else – without ever getting back to the point of restored relationships with those they have hurt – or with God.
But in this great parable, the young man saw it all. The secret that all hearts long for lay in being restored to his father. Is that not what the Gospel is? When the heart is touched, the understanding enlightened and the eyes opened – in fact, when one comes to their senses in this way, what is the most overwhelming revelation? It is that we need to get back to God, to be reconciled to Him, to retrace our steps – to see the former foolishness of our cynicism, rudeness, rebellion and to go with words “Father, I have sinned ……” on our lips.
Listen to this boy’s words in v 18: “I will set out and go back to my father …..”
Perhaps either you or someone you know needs to come to their senses in this way?
So he will set out and go back to his father, will he?
Yes, he will – and what a surprise awaits him.