What Does Luke 15:21 Mean?

"And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'

Luke 15:21(NASB)

Verse of the Day

The parable of the prodigal son is connected to a section that contrasts the rejoicing in heaven over one sinner that cries out to God for the forgiveness of sin, with the self-righteous scribes and Pharisees of Christ's day who trusted in their own righteousness and were blinded to the reality of their sins. Both the prodigals and the Pharisees grieved their Heavenly Father, and both were in need of His gracious forgiveness.

In the parable, we read the distressing story of a certain man who had two sons. The younger was rash, irresponsible, and extravagant and even managed to extract the portion of his father's estate that would, one day, have become his inheritance, while the older son presents as being a rather self-righteous prig.

But the parable presents us with a beautiful picture of God as our Heavenly Father and His gracious attitude towards each one of his errant children, with our own individual self-centred motives.

The verse in question brings us to a critical moment when the younger son finally recognised his own foolish behaviour, which brought him to a point of desperation. Having fallen from being a wealthy, globe-trotting heir, to becoming a pitiful, homeless beggar, the son decided to return home in the hopes of salvaging a little assistance from the father whom he had treated so abominably.

We read in this verse that the son said to his father: "Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; and am no longer worthy to be called your son." Indeed, he planned to continue by pleading to be allowed to work as a hired servant in his father's household so that he would have food on the table and a little place to sleep.

What is so noticeable here, is that the son recognised his own fault and foolishness. He realised how insulting his behaviour had been towards his family - but he had to reach that point of utter desperation before coming to his senses. And so we read that he rehearsed his apologetic speech, returned home, and started to confess his faults to his dad - who we discover immediately returned the prodigal into fellowship with himself.

Each of us who have been saved by grace through faith in Christ and have become a member of God's family, have some incredible privileges - one of which is fellowship with the Father. But once we have been saved, there are lessons a child of God needs to learn and correction each son must undergo - and too often we allow our own thoughtlessness or reckless attitude to influence a behaviour which dishonours our Father in heaven.

But like the prodigal son, we need to confess our faults to the Lord - knowing that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

There is rejoicing in heaven when an unsaved sinner believes on the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sin - but there is also rejoicing when a child of God, who has been dazzled by the things of this world, comes to their senses and confesses their sin to the Lord.

The prodigal was right - he was no longer worthy to be called the son of his Father and neither are we, when we sin. However, we who have been saved by grace through faith in Christ are covered with HIS righteousness - and not a righteousness of our own. We are sons of God because of Christ's sacrifice on our behalf. We are accepted by the Father - in the Beloved and not as a result of our own righteousness.

And so when we break our fellowship with our Heavenly Father through sin, this parable of the prodigal son gives us clear instructions on how to return into sweet communion with Him - we are to leave the old life behind, turn right away from our sin, return in penitence and obedience to the Lord our God, and confess our faults to our Heavenly Father.

My Prayer

Heavenly Father, there is nothing that commends me to You and yet in Your grace, You have washed away my sin through the blood of Jesus Christ, my sacrifice for sin. I confess that I have not loved and served You as I ought, and have too often placed my own selfish desires before obedience to Your Word. I admit, Lord, that I have done many things that are unworthy of Your name - but thank You that in Christ all my sins have been washed away. Keep me low at the Cross and broken before You, all the days of my life. This I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.

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