AUDIO The Untold Story Of The Prodigal Son

By Rev Bill Woods

Luke 15:11-32 
11  To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons.
12  The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.
13  “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living.
14  About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve.
15  He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs.
16  The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.
17  “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger!
18  I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you,
19  and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’
20  “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.
21  His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’
22  “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet.
23  And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast,
24  for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.
25  “Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house,
26  and he asked one of the servants what was going on.
27  ‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’
28  “The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him,
29  but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends.
30  Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’
31  “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours.
32  We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’”

Tell the original story of the Prodigal Son.

    – He was in rebellion against his father’s authority and his father’s religion.

He felt he was missing out on whatever the Far Country had to offer.

    – He was tired of being stuck on the farm!

It must’ve hurt Dad for him to reject how he’d been raised.

This father had provided food, shelter, love and training for this son and wanted him be a successful adult.

    – Dad’s heart must’ve ached to have his son want to leave.

I can relate — we have 2 grandchildren who are sewing wild oats right now.

    – We’re praying that soon they’ll come to themselves and say, ”What am I doing here?”

Finally, when his money and friends were gone and he’d hit bottom for a Jewish boy, he began to realize what he had given up and where his foolish choices had taken him to.

Luke 16:17-19:   “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger!
18  I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you,
19  and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’

Describe how Dad was praying for him and watching for him every day!

    – Finally, he arrived and Dad rejoiced and celebrated…………..

The older brother was really upset!……………….

He was forgiven by the father, but what about “THE REST OF THE STORY?”

What probably happened after the Prodigal’s dad died?

    – The son was now a servant of the older brother until he learned the lessons of obedience.

He’d lost his inheritance because of the sinful decisions he had made.

    – He’d lived with harlots!  He indulged in every sin his heart desired, but it hadn’t satisfied him, in fact it destroyed what should’ve been good in his life.

Listen to what the older brother said, — Luke 15:30Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’

Everything belonged to the big brother now — Luke 15:31His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours.”

Somehow we’ve gotten the mistaken idea we can sin and ask forgiveness and there’ll be no consequences for our actions…………   



It’s like throwing a rock into a pond and praying there’ll be no ripples!

    – Sin always has consequences!  That’s the part of the untold story of the Prodigal son  

      That people forget to acknowledge and tell.

    – A person might find forgiveness for a promiscuous sex life, but still be a candidate for sexual transmitted diseases.

This sexually orientated society wants to sin and avoid the results.  IT AIN’T GONNA HAPPEN!

    – Take drugs with no after affects – AGAIN, IT AIN’T GONNA HAPPEN!

How much better it would be to avoid sin in the first place!

    – Sin always bring limitations………….

    – People talk of the character value of limitations…………almost proud of sin.

Imagine what God can do for a person who gets saved while still young and avoids the sinful snares of Satan…………..your kids and grandkids……………..

Even if you’re and old geezer or geezerette, you should get saved as quickly as possible and let God help you clean up your life.

Some will say, “I’m just too old and now it’s too late!”

    – Colonel Harland Sanders was 77 years old when he asked Christ into his heart in 1979.

  • He had lived a rough life with many failures until Jesus saved him.
  • He had a filthy mouth, that God helped him clean up.

He said, for most of his life, he knew he needed to devote his life to Jesus Christ and finally at the age of 77 years old he was fortunate to accept Jesus Christ. And he calls it “the greatest experience I’ve had in my 89 years of life”

He acknowledged and shared the fact that, no amount of good works would get him in to Heaven. Only having God in his heart, would assure him of salvation.

He urged all who would listen, especially the older ones, to accept Christ before it was too late.

God prospered him and he used his wealth to bless others.  He gave most of it away, “You can’t take it with you, No use being the richest man in the cemetery. Because you can’t do any business in there”!

Well, the Prodigal Son had wasted his inheritance and sin had stripped it all away.  Now he had to be the servant under the discipline of his older brother after Dad died.

He had confessed to Dad:  Luke 15:19and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’

The older boy had been faithful and Dad told him, Luke 15:31 — “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours.”

His older brother was now willing to accept him as a servant!

    – This situation gave him the opportunity to become bitter or better…………….

      – We’ll all eventually face the choice of getting “bitter or better”  (it’s not always the result of sin.)

      – To become bitter is sin…………….

      – To become better is spiritual growth.

We have the ability to learn greatness through serving.

Matthew 23:11-12
11  The greatest among you must be a servant.
12 But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will  be exalted.

We live in a society that’s success and goal orientated.

    – If you haven’t got wealth, fame, etc. you’re a failure.

When I arrived in Cheyenne, the largest Church on the District, I thought I’d made it!……

    – When I arrived in Stevenson — I felt I was failure.

    – I was embarrassed and complained to an Old lady running the Christian bookstore in Hood River:  She said, “What an opportunity!”

Here I was, “College degree, seminary, having pastored larger churches and now having to pastor one of the smallest churches on the district and hauling laundry to make ends meet!…..” – That really sounded successful to me!

        – I had a choice, I COULD BECOME “BITTER OR BETTER.”

Success isn’t always measured in wealth, things, popularity, etc.

  • I found success is being where God puts you doing what God wants you to do!

By today’s standards, Jesus would be a failure.

   – Look how Jesus measured up to these standards:

    – Was He popular?

     – No!  He wasn’t well liked by the high society.

     – In fact, after one of His sermons all His followers deserted Him, except for the 12.

John 6:66-67
66  At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him.
67  Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?”     

Did He have political power?

    – No!  He was a political failure — all levels of government rejected Him……………..  

      – They conspired to kill Him!

Did He have lots of friends?

    – No!  His friends often hurt Him—eventually abandoned Him, and one of them betrayed Him.

Did He have money and possessions?

    – No!  No house, no wheels, no world headquarters, no Christian amusement park.

Was He respected by His peers?

  – No!  His professional peers (Pharisees and Saducees) rejected His message and His work.

Despite His apparent failure by these standards, Jesus Christ has changed the lives of millions of men, women, and children across the centuries.

 – How could that be in light of His failures?

How do you let set-backs affect you?………

    – Are you able to pick life back up and keep going knowing God keeps perfect records?

– I’ve heard Christians say about seemingly successful people, “It’s not fair!  They don’t even serve God and look how successful they are!…………”

  • May I remind you the games not over yet!

Not all set-backs are the result of sin but, many people today suffer limitations in their Christian lives because of past rebellion like the Prodigal.

    – David and Bathsheba (he lost privilege to build Temple)

No matter how you say it — SIN IS STUPID!…………

  – You’ll always pay for sin even though forgiveness is given.

  – Don’t sin and hope to avoid the consequences.

 Galatians 6:7 — Don’t be misled — you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant.

Remember, Satan’s out to destroy you!

1 Peter 5:8-9
8  Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.
9  Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are.  

Learn to avoid his temptations James  4:7-8 
7  So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
8  Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.

1 Corinthians 10:13The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

We get too comfortable with things that’ll destroy us.

Few college football coaches have made a point against drugs as effectively as Erk Russell of Georgia Southern College. He arranged for a couple of good ol’ country boys to burst into a routine team meeting and throw a writhing, hissing, six-foot-long rattlesnake onto a table in front of the squad. “Everyone screamed and scattered,” Russell recalls. “I told them, ‘When cocaine comes into a room, you’re not nearly as apt to leave as when that rattlesnake comes in. But they’ll both kill you!”

The best way to assure victory in your Christian Life is to leave sin alone!

 – There’s no way to reclaim lost years of service for God………….

I’m sure the Prodigal regretted his years away in “the far country.”

He couldn’t reclaim them, but he couldn’t afford to let them keep destroying him either.

Today, find God’s Will for your life.

 – Walk in harmony with Him…………….

If you find limitations in your life because of past rebellion, don’t rebel any longer!

Turn those limitations into a life message.

Arnold Daniels smoked for years and developed emphysema — he tried to teach others by his mistakes.

If you find limitations in your life from past sin, conquer them by letting Jesus have control.

If you find limitations in your life—not because of sin and rebellion—instead, something that will give you opportunity to grow—use it for God’s Glory.




Your Weakness Is Not Meaningless

God has given you so many limitations because he loves you.

God has given you so many limitations because he loves you.

If you’re like most people, you don’t feel loved by your limitations. You feel confined, stunted, trapped, and exposed by them. You feel discouraged by how weak you are and how many things you can’t do well or at all. You might even be tempted to resent God for equipping you with what looks like a stingy allotment of abilities.

But that’s only because you’re mainly looking at yourself from the wrong perspective, which is looking too much at yourself.

God gave you your finiteness, your very limited strengths and weaknesses, in order that you might know and delight in his glorious love for you in as many of its manifestations as you possibly can. You are so limited because you are so loved.

Where We Experience Love Most

Our finiteness itself is not a consequence of the fall, even though the corruption that infects it is (2 Peter 1:4). God created humans incredibly limited from the very beginning because we were designed to live in a world of love.

What do our limitations have to do with love? Just about everything. Because the way God made us, we always experience love most in the places where grace is most needed. This is true both in how we receive love (from God and others), and in how we give love.

When Do We Love God Most?

Humans always have and always will live only on the grace of God, our “Maker, Benefactor, Proprietor, Upholder” (The Valley of Vision, 115). It was true in Eden before the fall, and it will be true in the age to come when we are finally free from sin.

But it is especially true in this age where we are such great sinners and in need of such amazing amounts of grace. In the Father’s giving his only Son for us in our wretched, undeserving state to die in our place, we have been loved with the greatest love possible (John 3:1615:13Romans 5:8). And our response of gratitude-drenched love to him for his gracious love to us produces a holy reverberation of love-infused joy between God and us. We gratefully love God because he so graciously and sacrificially loved us first (1 John 4:19).

The more we grasp his incomprehensible love for us in our immeasurable need (Ephesians 3:19), the greater our love for him grows. That’s why the woman forgiven by Jesus of her great sins had the greater love for God than Simon the Pharisee (Luke 7:47). Our greatest experience of God’s love for us is in the place of our greatest need for his grace.

When Do We Love One Another Most?

It’s also true that we experience the most love for one another in the places of our greatest mutual needs.

When God gave me my strengths, few though they are, his purpose wasn’t to give me some basis on which to feel good about myself. He gave them to me so I could have the astounding privilege of loving someone else by graciously serving them in a place of their need, and then by receiving their grateful love in return.

And when God gave me my weaknesses, which are legion, his purpose wasn’t to make me ashamed and discouraged. He gave them to me so I could have the astounding privilege of humbly receiving someone else’s love as they graciously serve me in a place of my need, and then joyfully responding to them with grateful love in return.

And just like the vertical reverberation of love between God and us, there are horizontal reverberations of love between us as we extend love to one another. And since God is love and all love originates in him (1 John 4:7–8), the vertical and horizontal reverberations all meld together into one glorious song of love to God.

Do you see God’s beautiful design of love in our limitations? The transactions of love occur in the very places of our various and different needs. As John Piper so helpfully says, “Love is the overflow of joy in God that gladly meets the needs of others” (Desiring God, 119). There it is: the dynamic melding of the vertical and horizontal love of God. God’s glory is revealed when, however imperfectly in this age, we obey the greatest commandments (Luke 10:27).

A Body of Love

God has given you so many limitations because he loves you. He wants you to experience as much of his love, in as many ways as possible. And for that to happen, he must provide you a never-ending river of reasons, and an enormous range of diverse ways, to receive and give love.

And this is just what he’s done! He has made you a very limited part of his body, the church, and he places you with other parts that are also very limited in different ways (1 Corinthians 12:1827). As the interdependent parts work together, the whole body functions (Romans 12:4–5) and it displays the love of God (John 13:34–35). Your unique strengths and weaknesses are indispensible gifts to this body. Without them the whole body suffers because unique expressions of God’s gracious love will be missed.

If you’re frequently discouraged over your limitations, it’s an indicator that you’re looking at yourself from the wrong perspective, and looking at yourself too much. You’re not seeing what God sees; you’re likely feeling discontent from comparing yourself to other people, other parts of the body.

A wonderful treatment for such discouragement is prayerfully meditating on 1 Corinthians 12 and 13. And also it’s likely time to reframe the question from “Why can’t I be more like that?” to “What opportunities is God giving me in my limitations to experience more of his gracious love?”

Because the truth is, you are so limited because you are so loved.