I was telling someone the other day that what I enjoy about Jesus' parables is that as you layer one on the other certain themes emerge that you may not have seen with just one parable. One theme that I see emerging is that Jesus doesn't expect us to repent in order for him to forgive us. He forgives us in order that we will repent.
I mentioned this on Sunday in my sermon on The Lost Sheep. Sheep are incapable of "repenting". Once lost, they shut down, curl up and wait to be rescued or die. If the shepherd doesn't seek them out and carry them home they are toast. In the parable of the Lost Coin (Luke 15) the same is true. The coin has no ability to "repent" and is dependent on the woman to find it.
I will show this Sunday that the Prodigal son tried to repent by returning home willing to be a servant but the end of this kind of "repentance" was only slavery. That's not what God wants for us. He wants us to be his son or daughter. So true repentance doesn't happen for the prodigal until his Father takes action - embraces him and offers him a banquet. True repentance takes place when the son agrees to attend the party and live like a son instead of a slave.
I'm convinced that many Christians live like slaves vs. children of God because they still haven't received God's forgiveness. They are in a perpetual state of trying to earn God's forgiveness, but since that's impossible, they never achieve their goal which makes them feel like they are on the "outs" with God. Is that true for you?