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The Symbolism of the Prodigal Son

The Symbolism of the Prodigal Son

Jesus uses parables when teaching. Parables are earthly stories that have a heavenly meaning. Parables also have a spiritual meaning. In using parables, the Lord is able to teach a spiritual concept in such a way that even the most illiterate person is able to understand. The parable of the “Prodigal Son” is an earthly story that shows how pleased God is when a sinner repents and comes back to him. The “Prodigal Son” is a symbolic representation of Gods forgiveness or our sins, repentance of the sinner, and self-righteousness of everyman.


The younger son - the prodigal son - represents the sinner who comes to God in faith and repentance. The prodigal son is impatient with the restraints placed upon him. Therefore, he wants his inheritance now to spend as he pleases. He wants to be free from the household rule of his father. This shows that a sinner is far from God and does whatever he wants without thoughts of the consequences. The prodigal son “takes a journey into a far country”. In this journey, he spends all that was given to him in a wasteful manner. After spending all he has, he lives in destitute feeding the swine and eating their leftovers. He realizes that he has sinned and decides to repent and returns home to ask his father for forgiveness.


The father of the “Prodigal Son” represents God who gives his divine love and forgiveness. The father divides everything that he has between his two sons. The younger son - the prodigal son - takes all that he has and squanders it. Although the younger son sins, the father welcomes him home with open arms forgiving his sins. He shows his “fatherly love” by telling the servants “Bring forth the best robe and put it on him; and put a ring on his hands, and shoes on his feet.” “And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it, and let us be merry: For my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.” His father shows him unmerited love as God does all his children.


The older son is a representation of the self-righteousness of everyman. The older son faithfully remains home working for his father. ...

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