What Jesus Did! 'A Tale of Two Sons' — Luke 15:11-12

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

To illustrate the point [about the celebration at finding something that was lost] further, Jesus told them this story: "A man had two sons. 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."

Note: This passage is the beginning of the third story (Luke 15:11-32) that Jesus told about the joy of recovering something or someone that is lost. The other two stories are Luke 15:3-7 and Luke 15:8-10.
— Luke 15:11-12 NLT

Key Thought

Just as in the case of the two previous stories, this tale of two sons is told to illustrate God's joy over a sinner coming to him. In this story, one son was rebellious and left home. When he asked for his inheritance before his father died, he basically told his dad that he was no better than dead! The other son, however, never really seemed to be at home with the father — he took his share of the inheritance, the larger share since he was the older son, and stayed at home working out of a sense of slaving duty. [1] Neither son knew the heart of the father. Both broke his heart as the story progressed. [2] However, the father remained true to his love and sought to bless and redeem both. My guess is that at different times in our lives, we actually play the part of each son — self-righteous and loveless like the older son or rebellious and selfish like the younger son. How can we thank God for loving us in either condition and for working with us to help us know what it means to be his forgiven and holy child? We can dedicate our lives to serving him.

[1] Luke 15:25-30.
[2] Luke 15:13, 28-29.

Today's Prayer

Father God, forgive me. I know that I have not always lived my life in a way that has blessed you as my Father. Thank you for your patience and your mercy. Thank you for letting me feel the sting of my sin and the consequences of my rebellion. Thank you for confronting my heart when it is unforgiving toward others. Thank you for longing to make my life a place of joy, celebration, relationship, and reunion. In Jesus' name, I offer you my thanks and praise. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

  • Galatians 3:26-29
  • Romans 8:15-17
  • Mark 11:25


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Illustration of Luke 15:11-12 NLT — "A man had two sons. 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."

About This Devotional

What Jesus Did! is a series of one-year devotional guides through each gospel, using one short scripture passage each day and following the Gospel in sequential order. Each devotional consists of a scripture passage and a reflection and a prayer which open up the day's scripture and show how it challenges you to live for Jesus.

What Jesus Did! is written by Phil Ware and is available in book form.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.