Day 9: Acceptance Leads to Experiencing Forgiveness

rembrant-prodigal-son-detailThe 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.

In the Bible, the word repentance means ‘to change one’s mind’, to do a 180 in our thinking.  It is a response to a profound truth or revelation.  It took the lavish crazy love of the father in this story, for the son to change his own mind (repent) about his father’s opinion of him!  That is the story of Grace in this parable!

Look at what Romans 4:2 has to say about what actually motivates and compels us.  Read it slowly and contemplate on the words carefully:

  • Romans 2:4 (NLT)  4 Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?
  • Romans 2:4  Do not underestimate God’s kindness. The wealth of his benevolence and his resolute refusal to let go of us in his patient passion is to shepherd everyone into a radical mind shift. (Francois Du Toit (2014-01-08). Mirror Bible)

What would it take to be accepted back home?  I can tell you it was the kindness and forgiveness of the father, not an angry parent yelling at his son to shape up.  It was the gentle and accepting heart of the father that provided the doorway through which the son had to walk in order to experience the freedom that was already his.

The other brother has a significant role in this story too.  He represents the crowd who believes their ‘good service’ will make them acceptable to God.  He was so upset at his brother coming home that he didn’t even recognize him as his own kin.   When speaking to his father about him, he referred to him as “this son of yours’.   He had looked at his brother and judged him the same way he thought his father was judging himself.

Again, the words of the father to his second son are just as profound.  He says to him, “all I have is yours, you have always been with me.’  What could these few words mean?”   I believe the father is really saying, “don’t you know who you are.”  Do you know your identity?  You are loved, accepted, forgiven, you lack nothing.  It is not your faithful service that makes you acceptable, it is my love for you!

The story ends with a profound scene fading into black.  The other brother is ‘outside the party’ in outer darkness, and guess where the father is?  In the outer darkness with his son. Think about that.

Your heavenly father is not angry with you.  He loves you and has completely forgiven you.  Come home and believe the truth about how he feels about you.  (*you need to watch the ‘video of the day’)

Mike Zenker


  1. What is something ‘new’ you read in today’s blog? Was there something you had not seen before in the story of the prodigal son?
  2. How would you feel if you were the stay at home brother and your squandering sibling came home? Would you be jealous and try to keep him in his place, making him remember for the rest of his life of the wrong he did?
  3. What exactly makes God attractive, what is it that draws us towards him, his anger or his love?
  4. How does this perception cause us to see those around us differently?


Luke 15:11-32The Message (MSG)   The Story of the Lost Son

11-12 Then he said, “There was once a man who had two sons. The younger said to his father, ‘Father, I want right now what’s coming to me.’  12-16 “So the father divided the property between them. It wasn’t long before the younger son packed his bags and left for a distant country. There, undisciplined and dissipated, he wasted everything he had. After he had gone through all his money, there was a bad famine all through that country and he began to hurt. He signed on with a citizen there who assigned him to his fields to slop the pigs. He was so hungry he would have eaten the corncobs in the pig slop, but no one would give him any.  17-20 “That brought him to his senses. He said, ‘All those farmhands working for my father sit down to three meals a day, and here I am starving to death. I’m going back to my father. I’ll say to him, Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son. Take me on as a hired hand.’ He got right up and went home to his father.  20-21 “When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. The son started his speech: ‘Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son ever again.’  22-24 “But the father wasn’t listening. He was calling to the servants, ‘Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then get a grain-fed heifer and roast it. We’re going to feast! We’re going to have a wonderful time! My son is here—given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found!’ And they began to have a wonderful time.  25-27 “All this time his older son was out in the field. When the day’s work was done he came in. As he approached the house, he heard the music and dancing. Calling over one of the houseboys, he asked what was going on. He told him, ‘Your brother came home. Your father has ordered a feast—barbecued beef!—because he has him home safe and sound.’  28-30 “The older brother stalked off in an angry sulk and refused to join in. His father came out and tried to talk to him, but he wouldn’t listen. The son said, ‘Look how many years I’ve stayed here serving you, never giving you one moment of grief, but have you ever thrown a party for me and my friends? Then this son of yours who has thrown away your money on whores shows up and you go all out with a feast!’  31-32 “His father said, ‘Son, you don’t understand. You’re with me all the time, and everything that is mine is yours—but this is a wonderful time, and we had to celebrate. This brother of yours was dead, and he’s alive! He was lost, and he’s found!’”



Heavenly Father, thank you for your kindness and mercy.  Thank you that I can live in response to your great forgiveness and life that you have given me.  Help me to repent of any wrong understanding I have about you, or about how you see me.  Please continue to reveal your profound love and grace to me.  Since it has been given to my, show me how this has been given to the world as well.

6 thoughts on “Day 9: Acceptance Leads to Experiencing Forgiveness

  1. I am going to ask for prayer. I am like the second son. I live with two men in my family with addictive behaviors, one is in rehab. Our family is healing together. I have a difficult time forgiving years of painful behaviors. I think I have gotten there and then something triggers pain all over again. I know God wants me to be like the father and to let go of resentment. I need a change in heart and a touch from God. Thanks


    • Debbie Hastings,

      I think you have turned the 180 degrees and see your old self that way. It takes time for our souls to heal. 🙂


    • Jesus your saviour hasn’t stopped praying for you on your behalf. We join in as he draws our attention to your need! Praying for a fuller revelation of what forgiveness is and is not.


  2. Thanks Mike

    The father of the younger son accepted and loved him before he left, while he was gone and when he came back. The older son stayed but also left the father, who accepts and loves him. He also left in his thinking and even though he is home he is still mind-less of who he truly is. Both sons have to change their minds and come to know who their father is. Love, who their father is, forgives.

    Isn’t this also true for all humanity, who are accepted and loved before time began, now and forever. ( LOVE WHO IS FATHER, SON AND HOLY SPIRIT FORGIVE.) It’s a mind changer!


  3. This is probably my favorite story in the bible. Our Father just loves, loves, and loves us so much! We are SO LOVED! You taught us this story very beautifully, Mike. Thanks!


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