Humility and Maturity: Luke 15:11-32

Focus Passage: Luke 15:11-32 (NIV)

 11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

 13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

 17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.
      “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

 21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

 22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

 25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

 28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

 31 “ ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ ”

Read Luke 15:11-32 in context and/or in other translations on!

In today’s journal entry, we are going to be touching on one of Jesus’ most famous parables – the parable of the lost son. However, while we could focus on the lost son, or on the Father character, the big idea I want to bring out from this parable comes from the character of the older brother.

At the beginning of the parable, we get a pretty strong impression that the younger (rebellious) son is immature, because demanding his inheritance early is similar to saying that his father is dying too slowly. He then proceeds to leave town and waste the money on wild living.

Back at home, we can only imagine the older brother to be way more mature, having chosen to stay and continue working in the family business.

However, when famine strikes and the younger son hits bottom and makes his way home, we get a glimpse into both brothers’ characters. We see the younger brother, with a lot more life experience (and maturity), practicing a speech that is a complete 180 degree shift from his earlier demands. Life has taught this son something the father was never able to – maturity.

In contrast, the older son, who never left the business, reveals his character when the father chooses to celebrate the return of his younger brother. The older brother becomes jealous, resentful, and angry at the thought of celebrating.

Both sons really wanted the same thing, but the Father sees and knows something that both sons don’t realize: Humility is a sign of maturity. By getting angry at the celebration, the older son reveals how immature he really is. He isn’t gutsy enough to demand his inheritance early (like the younger son), but he was missing opportunities to grow while at home. At the close of this parable, we find the younger son having matured significantly more than the older son, something I am sure the father has picked up on.

So what about in our own lives?

Do we live and act out of an inner humility – which helps reveal our real maturity level – or do we live and act in a way that reveals how immature we really are?

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus “Reflective Bible Study” package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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