Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: Luke
Book: Luke
Chapter: 15

Parables of the lost Sheep, and the piece of Silver. (1-10)
The prodigal son, his wickedness and distress. (11-16) His
Repentance and Pardon. (17-24) The Elder Brother offended.

1-10 The Parable of the lost Sheep is very applicable to the
great work of Man's Redemption. The lost Sheep represents the
sinner as departed from God, and exposed to certain ruin if not
brought back to him, yet not desirous to return. Christ is
Earnest in bringing sinners home. In the Parable of the lost
piece of Silver, that which is lost, is one piece, of small
value compared with the Rest. Yet the Woman seeks diligently
till she finds it. This represents the various means and methods
God makes use of to bring lost souls home to himself, and the
Saviour's joy On their return to him. How careful then should we
be that our Repentance is unto Salvation!

11-16 The Parable of the prodigal son shows the nature of
Repentance, and the Lord's readiness to welcome and Bless all
who return to him. It fully sets forth the riches of Gospel
Grace; and it has been, and will be, while the world stands, of
unspeakable use to Poor sinners, to direct and to encourage them
in repenting and returning to God. It is bad, and the beginning
of worse, when men look upon God's Gifts as debts due to them.
The great folly of sinners, and that which ruins them, is, being
content in their Life-time to receive their good things. Our
first parents ruined themselves and all their race, By a foolish
ambition to be independent, and this is at the bottom of
sinners' persisting in their Sin. We may all discern some
features of our own characters in that of the prodigal son. A
sinful state is of departure and distance from God. A sinful
state is a spending state: wilful sinners misemploy their
thoughts and the powers of their souls, misspend their time and
all their opportunities. A sinful state is a wanting state.
Sinners want necessaries for their souls; they have neither Food
nor raiment for them, nor any provision for hereafter. A sinful
state is a vile, slavish state. The business of the Devil's
servants is to make provision for the Flesh, to fulfil the lusts
thereof, and that is No better than feeding Swine. A sinful
state is a state of constant discontent. The wealth of the world
and the pleasures of the senses will not even satisfy our
bodies; but what are they to precious souls! A sinful state is a
state which cannot look for relief from any Creature. In vain do
we cry to the world and to the Flesh; they have that which will
Poison a soul, but have nothing to give which will feed and
nourish it. A sinful state is a state of Death. A sinner is dead
in trespasses and sins, destitute of spiritual Life. A sinful
state is a lost state. Souls that are separated from God, if his
Mercy prevent not, will soon be lost for ever. The prodigal's
wretched state, only faintly shadows forth the awful ruin of Man
By Sin. Yet how few are sensible of their own state and

17-24 Having viewed the prodigal in his abject state of misery,
we are next to consider his recovery from it. This begins By his
coming to himself. That is a turning point in the sinner's
Conversion. The Lord opens his eyes, and convinces him of Sin;
then he views himself and every object, in a different Light
from what he did before. Thus the convinced sinner perceives
that the meanest servant of God is happier than he is. To look
unto God as a Father, and our Father, will be of great use in
our Repentance and return to him. The prodigal arose, nor
stopped till he reached his home. Thus the repenting sinner
resolutely quits the Bondage of Satan and his lusts, and returns
to God By Prayer, notwithstanding fears and discouragements. The
Lord meets him with unexpected tokens of his forgiving Love.
Again; the reception of the humbled sinner is like that of the
prodigal. He is clothed in the robe of the Redeemer's
Righteousness, made partaker of the Spirit of Adoption, prepared
By peace of Conscience and Gospel Grace to walk in the ways of
Holiness, and feasted with Divine consolations. Principles of
Grace and Holiness are wrought in him, to do, as Well as to

25-32 In the latter part of this Parable we have the character
of the Pharisees, though not of them alone. It sets forth the
kindness of the Lord, and the proud manner in which his gracious
kindness is often received. The Jews, in general, showed the
same Spirit towards the converted Gentiles; and Numbers in every
Age object to the Gospel and its preachers, On the same ground.
What must that temper be, which stirs up a Man to despise and
abhor those for whom the Saviour shed his precious Blood, who
are objects of the Father's choice, and temples of the Holy
Ghost! This springs from pride, self-preference, and ignorance
of a Man's own Heart. The Mercy and Grace of our God in Christ,
shine almost as bright in his tender and gentle bearing with
peevish saints, as his receiving prodigal sinners upon their
Repentance. It is the unspeakable happiness of all the children
of God, who keep close to their Father's House, that they are,
and shall be ever with him. Happy will it be for those who
thankfully accept Christ's invitation.