He Came to Himself
by Jacob Hudgins
“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger!’”(Luke 15:17).
The prodigal is in a far country, penniless and hungry. He can only find work feeding pigs and would be happy to just eat alongside them. But when he comes to himself, the story turns dramatically. He sees what he has done and what he must now do. He returns home to his father and all is forgiven.
It is fascinating that God uses a word picture to describe this moment of change—“he came to himself.” It means that prior to this, the prodigal was out of his mind. Wrapped up in sin, perhaps harboring resentment toward his family, he did not see the reality in front of him. But when his sense returned, he returned home.
Our duty in sharing the gospel with the world is to try to help others “come to themselves.” While he is consumed with the pleasures of sinning, telling the prodigal about the father’s house is an exercise in frustration. He is out of his mind. As we present the glories of Jesus, we must be aware that there are times in life (such as feeding pigs during a famine) when others are much more receptive to the good news. This doesn’t mean that we try to guess the best times to teach so we can work less, but rather helps us understand why our best efforts are sometimes rebuffed. Perhaps our friends, relatives, or coworkers simply have not yet come to themselves.
The other comfort here is that when the young man came to himself, no one had to push him back to the father’s house. When we realize, in full measure, how far we have fallen from God, we are self-motivated to return to Him. There is peace in knowing that we don’t have to follow behind such people, shouting at every step, to keep them motivated to go home. If they have come to themselves, let’s show them the road and get out of the way!
Perhaps there is one more thought I need to draw out here. Many spend their lives in the comfort of the “father’s house.” They never descend to full-scale rebellion. They faithfully attend church services. They live reasonably good lives. Yet inside they are empty. They hide ugly sins. They play at religion. Their faith is shallow. They also need to “come to themselves,” finding themselves broken and penniless, and throw themselves on the mercy of the Father.
All of us are in horrible destitution and total spiritual bankruptcy. Thank God for His love for you!