Two quick thoughts on the Prodigal Son parable

1) It’s tough to embrace both the parable of the Prodigal Son and a theology of limited atonement. That’s because this parable seems to suggest that sooner or later those who wander away from God will eventually hit rock bottom, realize the error of their ways and return “home.” And rather than be met by a father with a book detailing their sins, the wayward will be met by a father who couldn’t be happier they’ve finally found their way back.

2) This parable also makes me think about Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:13, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.” We’re prone to think the road that leads to destruction is the one the prodigal son walked. But as the parable reveals, that road eventually led to salvation. The road to destruction is better represented by the elder brother in the parable, the one who thought he was in the right all along and who resented the grace his father showed to his younger brother.

Perhaps the sequel to the prodigal son story is the elder brother’s sojourn from home, driven out not by his father but by his own resentment about the favor shown to the prodigal. If so, I’d like to believe that he also eventually stumbled through the narrow gate and found his way back home.

Food for thought.

About Kevin Miller

Kevin Miller is an award-winning screenwriter, director and producer who has applied his craft to numerous documentaries, feature films and shorts. Recent projects include "The Chicken Manure Incident," "Hellbound?," "Drop Gun," "No Saints for Sinners," "spOILed," "Sex+Money," "With God On Our Side," "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" and "After..." In addition to his work in film, Miller has written, co-written and edited over 45 books. He lives in Kimberley, BC, Canada with his wife and four children.

  • Shirley

    Turns out both sons made the same mistake. One thought he was rejected because of his behavior…and the other thought he was accepted because of his behavior. In fact it was the relationship that mattered…not the behavior. They were both loved because they were SONS.

  • stuart

    A very good take on this parable was in Ziffereli’s Jesus.
    The parable was for Peter, questioning why Jesus was partying with sinners.
    A very moving endpiece where Jesus says to Peter “All I have is yours, but this is my son who was lost and is found!”.

  • Dave

    The prodigal son knew the Father’s love and yet left, as you say, he hit rock bottom and returned to a forgiving Father. What are your thoughts about what would have happened to the son (eternally) had he decided to not return to the Father?