The parable of the ‘Prodigal Son’ is not a story about forgiveness. This profound allegory has a far deeper meaning. The story is about the father’s acceptance and kindness. It’s about his acceptance of both of his sons, regardless of their performance. The first son’s performance was dismal, disrespectful, defiant, delusional and downright immature. The second son in the story is not as innocent as many may believe. He was self-righteous, judgemental, arrogant, boastful, proud and entitled. If you compare these two side by side, you have to ask, which one is really the prodigal?
The beauty of this story is that the ‘prodigal son’ who ‘came home’ had a manipulative plan prepared to try and persuade his father so that he would ‘have a place to stay and eat.’ His motive was not ‘make things right’, he was only thinking of his own stomach. It was when the father, who had ‘already forgiven’ him, who had ‘already accepted him’, threw his arms around him, hugged him, kissed him, welcomed him, it was then that the son repented. It was at that moment the son believed and received the grace and love of his father. The love and grace was already there, forgiveness was already there, but the son had to believe it in order to experience the benefits.