Within the confines of Luke 15:11-24 is the parable of the “Prodigal Son.” When reading the account of the prodigal, it does not take long to discover the difference between “Feasting in the Father’s House” (vs.23) and being “Famished in the Far Country” (vs.16). How can one reconcile the drastic difference between the two diverse states of the same individual? The prodigal’s physical state; both past and present was a matter of the will! While it may be a rough pill to swallow; life for the most part is the product of the choices that we make! While life may not be everything you want it to be; its potential for pleasure or pain is greatly affected by the activity of the will. There are multiple things that need to be considered when contemplating the matters of the will. There is the exercise of the will. In verses 11-17, we see the problems of a stubborn will. The prodigal’s demand for the family’s fortune and his departure from the father’s house stems from the spirit of rebellion. He wanted to assert his will over the will of the father. The results the young man’s choice match those of Naomi when she left Bethlehem Judah to journey to Moab; “Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.I went out full, and the Lord hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the Lord hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?” (Ruth 1:20-21). Naomi means pleasant and Mara means bitter. In verses 18-24, we see the prosperity of a submissive will. Misery gives way to merriment and famine quickly becomes feasting the moment the prodigal desires to come under the authority of the father and submit to the father’s will.
Secondly, there are examples of the will. Satan is the example of the stubborn will; “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High” (Isaiah 14:14). A stubborn will finds its origin in the spirit of rebellion. Satan, also known as Lucifer, son of the morning, demonstrated that spirit of rebellion when he led a revolt in heaven in an attempt to overthrow the rule and authority of God. A stubborn will is the product of a rebellious spirit which finds its origin in the person of Satan. The Saviour is an example of the submissive will. Jesus said when speaking of the Father, “for I do always those things that please him” (John 8:29). When facing the cruelty and the shame of the cross, Jesus prayed, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39). Speaking of the spirit of Christ, Paul said in Philippians 2:6-8, “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” A submissive will is the product of a yielded spirit which finds its origin in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. The response of our will is either an example of Satan or the Saviour.
Thirdly, there is the energy of the will. The response of the prodigal’s will was fueled by one of two things. The stubborn will is energized by the flesh! It is the appetites of the flesh that drew him away from the father’s house. It is the flesh that longs for the apparent, but empty pleasures of the far country. It was the flesh that resisted the will of the father and convinced the youth that things would be much better when he threw off all the restrains of the father’s house. While our first parents were encouraged by Satan to rebel, it was the appeal of the flesh that generated the sin! The submissive will is energized by faith. The flesh convinced the youth that the father would fail him, but faith convinced him that the father would favor him! What was it that caused the boy to return in submission to the father’s house; “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” (vs.17). In the hog pen, the boy was made aware of the faultiness of the flesh and the faithfulness of the father. While the flesh drew him away, faith would bring him back!
The boy was faced with two choices. He could yield to the satanic spirit of rebellion that is energized by the flesh which would in time produce a life of misery. Or, he could exercise the yielded spirit of the Saviour that is energized by faith in the father which ultimately produces a life of blessing. For in the end, it’s a matter of the will.