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The Prodigal son is portrayed in this parable as wayward, rebellious, probably in his late teenage years, and although callow, very sure of himself and his ability to make his own way in the world. He soon learns, however, that the world is a much more demanding and difficult place than he ever imagined, and eventually finds himself a hired servant with all the abuse and indignity that position entails. It is then that he "came to his senses" and realized that perhaps his father was right all along, and returns, humiliated and sadder but definitely wiser.
Although the parable is meant to portray wayward persons who reject the Gospel of Jesus, it could apply equally well to many who have at an early age attempted to take on the world on their own and found that the problems of the world, or of living, are not that easily solved. It could easily apply to those who suffer with addiction disease who often must reach bottom before they can recover. In many regards such as this, the lesson of the parable is timeless.
The Prodigal son can best be characterized as impatient, rebellious, proud, selfish, strong willed, adventurous and an immature attitude. Usually a son would receive his inheritance after his father's death, however, the Prodigal was not willing to wait that long. He could be compared to a lot of teens today, who are eager to get out on their own and away from their parent's authority. The Prodigal, however, like so many of us, finds out he really had it good at home and longs to return. He does return and finds his father accepts him back home with loving arms, which is a picture of our Heavenly Father.
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