The Path Back

Luke 15:17 – “And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto Him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,”

Vs 15 – Notice the phrase – “And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country;”

The Prodigal was so desperate that he went into an unknown country and cemented himself there. He became a citizen (like he had lived there all his life, he just blended in). Young people, one of the saddest parts of living a life down the path away (Rebellion/Sin) is that once you’re left “there” – “wasted” and “in want”, you’ll do anything you can just to feel like you belong again. Even if that means hooking up with people that you don’t even know, just to have a fresh, new start. You see, once again, this is what sin will do – it will cause you to live in places that you never would live in on your own. It causes you to become citizens (associates) with people you never normally would on your own. It causes you to do things (vs. 16 – eating husks) that you never would do on your own. Why? Because sin brands (will leave its marks) bands (ties you to people/things that you wouldn’t be otherwise) will land (causing you to end up in a hog pen) you in situations that you never intended to be in.

Vs 16 – Notice the phrase – “And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and NO man gave unto him.”

The word “fain” here means that he willingly lusted or desired after. The word “husks” here were long bean-like pods of the carob tree. This food was not meant for human consumption. This food was mainly used to feed the pigs with (slop). Don’t miss the phrase, “…and NO man gave unto him.” Notice that once the Devil is through with you, there will be NO man left around to help. Where was all the buddies that he had when he was partying and living life (so he thought…) to the full? You’ll be left to live a life of isolation and depression. This is why the world’s suicide rate is as high as it is, especially among teenagers. Suicide is the #3 killer of teenagers, behind Accidents and Homicide. If they’re not killing each other, sadly enough they’re killing themselves, but THANK GOD it doesn’t have to be like this. There is a PATH BACK!

Vs 17 – Look at the phrase – “And when he came to himself…”

This phrase “came to himself” literally means that he got tired of where life had taken him and simply decided to just get back up. We’re so good at studying/examining everybody else, but rarely do we give enough time to studying oneself. We need to not only be aware of, but also be willing to acknowledge our own weaknesses. We also need to be humble enough to ask God to deliver us from and give us the strength to overcome these weaknesses. Someone once said, “Self-acknowledgment boots your emotional and spiritual immunity, giving you the strength you need to release the past and rise above fear, doubt or resignation.” And the realization of just how good this Prodigal had it at the Father’s house is starting to haunt him. You’ll see this, “…How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!” It’s one thing to be starving with hunger; it’s another thing altogether different to be starving, knowing that you’re the reason behind why you are.

Vs 18 – It’s here that he realizes the foolishness of his ways – “I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee,”

The Prodigal was wise in realizing that he had not only sinned against his father, but also against the very God of Heaven as well. And here is the transformational point in this story. No one forced the Prodigal out of the country in which he was living, the truth is, he probably could’ve lived the rest of his life there miserable, yet undetected. Sadly enough, that is the exact life that several teenagers that have went on before you are living in this morning. They probably feel as though they’re stuck now, but that’s just the Devil’s lie. The simple truth is, no matter how you ended up on the path away, the path back is usually paved with the same components T.S. This morning, I want to list for you the 6 components that comprise the Path Back, the pathway of Restoration/Reconciliation:

1. You don’t have to end up in the hog pen first (vs. 16)

2 Corinthians 5:18, “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.” The word “reconciliation” here literally means the restoration of favour with God in the difference of how much we fall short. Bella keeps a library book out for too long and she cannot check another one out until she pays a $10 fine. Problem is, she only has $5 and has no other way to come up with the other $5, so I pay it for her. So, by me making up the difference in how much she falls short, I’ve just placed her back in good standing with the Library. This is a great parallel in how Jesus made up the difference, with His death, on Calvary’s Cross. By doing this, He placed us once again in good standing with God the Father, because there was nothing more that we could do on our own. We don’t have to come to the end of life’s rope before we acknowledge the wrongs of our ways. If that’s you this morning, then decide today that you’re going to turn around and head down the path BACK.

2. You must come to yourself first (vs. 17)

You’ve got to want to come back. Nobody will be able to do this for you. Don’t waste years of your life before you realize that the Devil is a liar and his ways are all a mirage. The Devil’s quick to convince you where the fun’s at, but he never shares with you the consequences of what it’ll cost you.

3. You must repent of your sinful ways and acknowledge you’ve sinned (vs. 18, 19)

Some people want the ability to come back, but don’t want to acknowledge that they ever did anything wrong. That’s because they’re not repentant, they’re sorrowful that they got caught or that it ended up costing them something. This is two totally different places to be. There’s always a path back, but it will need to be bathed in humility. You may need to also go to people and right the wrongs of your past. If you’re not willing to do this, you haven’t even turned around yet.

4. Know that the Father has been waiting on you with open arms all along (vs. 20)

Notice the phrase, “But when he was a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.” The Father didn’t make him walk all the way back. As soon as he saw him on the horizon, He ran to him too. Many times, we stay in the Path Away, because we believe the lie that we’re too far gone to come back now. I am reminded of that night on the sea, in Matthew 14, when Peter took his eyes off Christ and began to sink. It was impossible for Peter to get himself up out of that water and back on dry ground. He just simply lifted his voice and said, “Lord, save me.” That was all it took, and Jesus ran to his aid, met him there, and lifted him out. Aren’t you SO glad you serve a Father with compassion? The Father has been waiting on you to return to His fellowship EVERY DAY since you left. What are you waiting for? If you do a 180 today, He’ll run to help you in the Path Back.

5. You must humble yourself, there’s simply no way around it (vs. 19)

I would be much more concerned what God thought about me than my friends. Many times, it’s our “friends” that got us in the path away to begin with. God already knows us. He’s the One that we need to show humility to first, then to others.

6. There’s still a reward that comes with getting restored (vs. 22-24)

The Robe, the Ring, the Reeboks, and Ribeye that he received that day, were all nice rewards. Make no mistake about it, they were not the inheritance, but still rewards, nonetheless. The permissive Will of God will never be as wonderful as the perfect Will of God, but you can still find a happy life to be lived there and be at peace with a future spouse and raise a future family in. Don’t jeopardize your entire future for temporary satisfaction in the present. Good choices are paid for in advance, bad choices are paid for long after they are experienced. You may bear sin’s scars for the rest of your life, but through humbleness, repentance, and reconciliation with Christ and with others, you can still accomplish great things for God. You can still serve Him. You may never be a Preacher, a Youth Pastor, or one of their wives, but you can still be a faithful greeter at the church entrance doors. You could still work in the Nursery. You could still be an Usher. Most of all, you could still be a faithful Christian in your daily devotions and have wonderful communion with Jesus Christ.


Please don’t misinterpret what I have attempted to teach over the last two weeks. My prayer is that you will never taste a drop of alcohol, never smoke a cigarette, never take one look at pornography, never have a bad thought, say a curse word, or ever do anybody physical harm. I pray that you will always love Jesus, your Mom, Dad, and siblings, and love this church and that you will never stray from being faithful. BUT if you find yourself journeying down the Path Away in Rebellion/Sin, please know that there IS a Path Back through humility, repentance and reconciliation. And if you’re contemplating doing a 180 and coming back, just know that Jesus has been looking on the horizon for your return every day, since the day that you first left. He loves you and He will help carry you back if you make the first step in humility. You’ve never known compassion, until you’ve been loved by Christ.

Danny Reynolds
Youth Pastor
Open Door Baptist Church
Mesquite, Texas