In Luke chapter 15 there are three parables.  Biblical parables are stories used to explain a truth or true principle.  Jesus took typical events and circumstances familiar to the people in His parables. The three parables in Luke 15 seem to focus on one sheep, one coin, and one son.  But there are the 99 other sheep, the other 9 coins, and the other brother. The emphasis however is not on the 99 sheep or the 1 sheep.  The emphasis is not on the 9 coins nor on the 1 coin.  Neither is the emphasis on the prodigal son or the son who stayed at home.  No the emphasis is on the shepherd, woman, and the father.  These parables should remind us of the love that the shepherd has for the sheep, and the love the woman has for her coin, and the love that a father has for his children.  Please notice the people who were present with Jesus when He told parable.  Understanding his audience is crucial to understanding the parable.

1.  Tax collectors and sinners

2.  Pharisees and scribes


I want to focus on the story of the rebellious son in contrast to the self-righteous son, although The principle is the same in all three parables.  The younger of the two sons got tired of life at home under the authority of the father.  He wanted his freedom and independence.  (Sinful independence reveals the sin of pride and arrogance.)  The father apparently agreed to his son's request and no doubt sold some of his holdings and land so a cash settlement could be made, thus giving his younger son what he wanted. (Be careful what you ask you might get it.)  This young man wanted his freedom rather than the loving care and advice of his father.  This young man moved to a distant country - as far away from his father as he could go.  There he squandered his father's wealth and ended up on welfare - except in those days there was no welfare system.  So he hired himself out feeding pigs (a Jew feeding pigs)!  This young man was humiliated, hungry, and homesick. He began to reflect on his life, his future, and his father (Scripture says he came to his senses) and he resolved to make a change. The son returned home and the father was forgiving and demonstrated his love for his son by running to him, throwing his arms around the son’s neck and kissed him again and again.


The father in this parable gives one picture of restored relationships while the older brother gives a different picture.  The older brother comes in from a hard day in the field and he not only rejected his brother, he confronted his father.  In fact, the older brother refused to enter the house, but the father came out to him.  This son considered his work like the work of a slave, obeyed all his father's commands (that is outward obedience) and acts indignant by referring to "this son of yours" rather than "my brother."  But, the father treats him tenderly and calls him "my child" a term of endearment.


You heard story, now think about the three characters:

            1.  The father represents the Father in heaven.

            2.  The younger son who rebelled represents the tax

                  collectors and sinners. (In need of forgiveness and reconciliation)

3.  The older son represents the self-righteous Pharisees  and scribes. (No need for forgiveness and reconciliation)


This parable is about two sinners - The younger brother and the older brother were sinners.  Both of them broke the Ten Commandments.  These sinners may be divided into two groups.  One group represents the younger brother - a penitent sinner humbly applying to God for grace and pardon.  The other group represents the older brother - An impenitent, self-righteous, proud and arrogant sinner questioning God's limits of grace and pardon.  One seeks the God of his salvation with an understanding of God's nature and character.  The other deprives himself of understanding the nature and character of God, because he only looks within himself for the answer.


This is not merely a biblical parable.   It is about real life and what happens all over the globe day after day.  The parable of the prodigal son is as certain as sin and should be avoided if at all possible.  However, when it happens, remember the parable of the amazing father.