A "parable of great hope and compassion" is how Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone of the Seventy described Jesus' story recorded in the 15th chapter of Luke. The story is commonly known as the parable of the prodigal son.
In Luke's account, the younger of two sons asked for his inheritance and went to a far country where he wasted it on riotous living. After he had spent his money, a famine arose in the land and the prodigal, in great need, was forced to take the most humble kind of work - feeding swine.Eventually, the prodigal returned home and was welcomed by his joyful father, who gave him "the best robe," shoes, a ring and instructed that a feast be prepared. The older son, who had remained home "was angry, and would not go in." (Luke 14:28.) The father went to him and said, "Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine." (Luke 15:31.)
Elder Featherstone, in addressing the October 1982 general conference, said, "The father had planned all along to reward the older brother by giving him everything, but this was the first time this had been mentioned. The father said, `It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.' (Luke 15:32.)
"A minister recently read the parable of the prodigal son over the radio. He concluded with: `The younger brother stood justified before the Lord due to his repentance, and the older brother fell under the greater condemnation.'
"When I heard this," said Elder Featherstone, "I wept and thought, `Oh, you foolish man. You do not understand the Lord's teachings.' The older son had been hurt and neglected and, true, had not exercised love and compassion to his wayward brother; but no thinking man could ever suppose that his transgression compared to the wasteful, extravagant, riotous living with harlots of the younger brother.
"I think I have an understanding of what the Lord was trying to teach in this beautiful parable which extends hope to all. The Savior is standing with open arms to receive and forgive all who will come unto Him. His atoning and redemptive suffering in Gethsemane and on Golgotha's hill are the greatest acts of love ever performed."
Elder Featherstone said that death, divorce, transgression, loneliness, and despair "drive individuals to Gethsemane's garden. The Master's outstretched arms are open to receive all."
"The parable of the prodigal son is beautiful. It demonstrates charity. His love and compassion are eternally surrounding every soul who walks the earth. Every man, woman, or youth who returns home after a prodigal journey or an inactive period will find the Savior waiting with open arms. His atoning act will satisfy justice and extend mercy to all who will `come unto him.' " (D&C 18:11.)
"Jesus revealed His feelings about ingratitude when only one of ten lepers who had been healed turned back and gave thanks," President Marion G. Romney of the First Presidency said in an October 1982 general conference address, in which he cited Luke 17:11-18.
When the one leper returned, the Savior asked: "Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger." (Luke 17:17-18.)
President Romney quoted President Joseph F. Smith, who said: "I believe that one of the greatest sins of which the inhabitants of the earth are guilty today is the sin of ingratitude, the want of acknowledgment, on their part, of God and His right to govern and control. We see a man raised up with extraordinary gifts, or with great intelligence, and he is instrumental in developing some great principle. He and the world ascribe this great genius and wisdom to himself. He attributes his success to his own energies, labor and mental capacity. He does not acknowledge the hand of God in anything connected with his success, but ignores him altogether and takes the honor to himself; this will apply to almost all the world.
"In all great modern discoveries in science, in the arts, in mechanics, and in all the material advancement of our age, the world says, We have done it.' The individual says,I have done it,' and he gives no honor and credit to God. Now, I read in the revelations through Joseph Smith, the prophet, that because of this, God is not pleased with the inhabitants of the earth but is angry with them because they will not acknowledge His hand in all things." (Gospel Doctrine, 5th edition.)
Jesus gave counsel on use of wealth
In Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained that, properly understood, the parable of the unjust steward (Luke 16:1-13) is a forceful explanation of how the saints should use their
own money and property to lay up eternal treasures for themselves in heaven.
Elder McConkie noted that the parable is addressed to certain people: the disciples, members of the Church and kingdom of God on earth, those who already know and understand the gospel plan.
To these people, observed Elder McConkie, it should be clear that the Master Teacher was pointing out that if worldly persons are so diligent in making provisions for the only future that concerns them, then the saints ought to be as diligent in preparing for their eternal heavenly future.
In the exposition following the parable, Elder McConkie noted, the Savior taught the proper use of wealth on the part of members of the Church. He showed that wealth should not be squandered on selfish, worldly pleasures, but used for the furtherance of the Lord's work on earth, for the building up of His kingdom, and for the advancement of the cause of Zion so that the saints will have, in effect, a bank account awaiting them in heaven.
Elder McConkie quoted Elder James E. Talmage, who wrote: "Our Lord's purpose was to show the contrast between the care, thoughtfulness, and devotion of men engaged in the money-making affairs of earth, and the halfhearted ways of many who are professedly striving after spiritual riches. Worldly minded men do not neglect provision for their future years, and often are sinfully eager to amass plenty; while the `children of light,' or those who believe spiritual wealth to be above all earthly possessions, are less energetic, prudent, or wise."'
"As to the proper use of wealth, Elder Talmage writes that Jesus is saying in effect: `Make such use of your wealth as shall insure you friends hereafter. Be diligent; for the day in which you can use your earthly riches will soon pass. Take a lesson from even the dishonest and the evil; if they are so prudent as to provide for the only future they think of, how much more should you, who believe in an eternal future, provide therefor!' "