A Different Way to Look at the Prodigal Son's Story

A different way to look at the prodigal son

In keeping up with my goal of updating just once a week, I am sharing some insights from the biblical story of the prodigal son. I had shared my insights with my contacts and got some really great feedback, and I felt it is worthwhile to share them here on this blog. The story is from the biblical passage of Luke 15:11-32.

This was my initial post when I read about it at the time: "There's a huge difference between being obedient and recognition of who you are. You can be obedient all your life and still be ignorant of your position. I don't think we pay enough attention to the elder brother as we pay the prodigal son.

It may be correct to say the older brother had a wrong mindset. But inside his mind, he's loyal and doing the right thing. He has probably been praying and hoping one day the father will kill a cow for him. He didn't realize that if he wanted it, it was already his.

He basically didn't know himself yet. And it's when you don't know yourself you compare yourself or get jealous. Cos if he knew, he wouldn't be mad at the father's action. The prodigal son knew his position somehow but made the mistake of leaving the father's presence.

He knew he could demand for something and get it. Even though he made that mistake of leaving the presence of the father where there is unlimited supply. He was limited by what he could see at the time, thinking that was all he could get from the father. The father's wealth, in the real sense of it, cannot really be divided into two. Because wealth multiplies.

But the prodigal son was limited in his thinking. He knows his position but was thinking small. He couldn't see the inexhaustible supply of the father. That's where humility comes in. Knowing your position shouldn't make you not recognize honoring the father who is unlimited."

I got a very insightful comment from a friend and former classmate, Stanley, who shared a well-written analysis with me, which I find worthy of sharing here:

"The father: Master of the manor, mogul businessman, and wealth creator, had two sons who he raised to the best of his ability.

First (good) son: Had a solid grasp of how the manor and the businesses were run. In fact, he was likely even a key player in its expansion and growth as he grew. Frugal spender, diligent, humble, careful, conflict-avoidant, focused young man.

Second (Prodigal) son: Couldn't care less about how the business was run. Absolutely hated everything about the life he was compelled to live there. But he was an adventurous, daring, erratic, annoying, fun-loving young man. Pretty sure must have made ridiculous requests in the past from his father that got rejected. Until that final one...

So the thing is both of them knew only one side of their heritage.

The prodigal son knew the power, freedom, possibilities, and privileges that came with his sonship. He absolutely was one to tell the worker to only eat when he was done or to sleep out in the open because he sensed a slight inflection in their tone when they spoke to him. He totally understood and exploited all the benefits of being a 'son'.

The good son only knew the responsibilities, discipline, focus, and rigor that came with being a son of the father. He understood that the pedigree was sustained with intelligent labor, people management, scheduling, logistics for the business, and so on. In fact, he probably knew and explored everything about the responsibilities of running the house so much his father put him in charge of it.

The prodigal son has no clue nor interest in the responsibilities of being a son of his father. 😅

The good son had no clue about the benefits and freedom that came with his heritage. 😂

So it was very like him (probably the prodigal son) to ask for his share of the accumulated wealth so he can go and see the world. He's the daring son who understood the freedom of being the son of a freakishly wealthy man. And of course, the father obliged because it was his right.

The problem is: out there in the world, if you don't understand the responsibilities and rigor of being the son of such a wealthy man, you'd lose everything quickly. He had no skill, no father to consult, and no endless supply of wealth to depend on. And soon it was over. He had to run back to the source.

The good son, on the other hand, was so good he even forgot to have some fun of his own while expanding the family business. No parties, no wine, no barbecue, nothing. He was so careful and focused and even, to an extent, *FEARFUL* about his responsibilities that he forgot to live a little while at it. He's the type to think about things 4000 times over before even venturing to ask his father who would promptly just give him the go-ahead even though he (the father) thought the weird request for approval process was completely unnecessary. And the good son might even be worrying that he was asking for too much or overstretching his limits. The reality was: he was barely grazing the surface.

The father must have thought "oh well, it's weird my son is asking me if he can kill and eat the sick dying goat when he could actually slaughter 10 of the healthiest ones and throw them to the dogs and I wouldn't mind. But whatever sha🤷🏾‍♂️"

Now the prodigal son returns, and the father without thinking twice, orders a party to be thrown.

Good son is confused and thinking: wait, are we allowed to do that?! I mean business is great and all, but is this not waste? And again, we are doing all these for this prodigal son that essentially set us back quite a bit with his senseless request?

I haven't even had the freedom to kill a chicken for my friends, and we are here talking about a party?! It was at that point that both sons understood their heritage completely.

The father told the good son 'all I have is yours; you could have taken it and done with it as you pleased, and I wouldn't have given a shit'. Now the good son knew the freedom that came from his sonship. The second son now understood that to live that life of privilege, you must put in the effort. The streets taught him everything he needed to know about that important point, albeit brutally.

I now see the story as more than just one of forgiveness but also one that exults balance on all fronts. One that tells you to fully examine your life and make the most of the perks it affords you without abandoning the duties you must fulfill to keep those perks.

Know who you are and exploit the opportunities that come with it, but be prepared to do the work that keeps these opportunities coming. It's never one or the other; it's a complete package.

The first son was timid and too careful and only did everything by the book, so while the business was flourishing, he was miserable. The prodigal son was audacious and stupid, and while that audacity got him a lot of benefits, his stupidity did not let him know how to keep or grow them.

Both sons combined are a replica of their father. Diligent and audacious. Balance."

I  have never seen the story interpreted this way, so feel free to share what you think about these insights.

I remain your friend,



  1. Wow...this is indeed different, so much to learn, not just forgiveness alone. Thank you for this insight. Audaciousness and diligence. Thank you for sharing. Looking forward to see you analyze the story of Esau and Jacob.


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