The Lost Son
One day a group of tax collectors and sinful people gathered to hear Jesus speak. The Pharisees and scribes were upset, and accused Jesus of “receiving” them (welcoming and accepting sinners and eating with them). So Jesus told them three stories—one about a lost sheep, one about a lost coin, and another about a lost boy.
The first parable, as we already noted, spoke of a man who had 100 sheep. If that man lost just one of those sheep, he would leave the 99 in the desert and go after that one lost sheep. If he found it, he would place it tenderly on his shoulder, rejoice, and then call his friends together to celebrate the occasion. The second parable we discussed spoke of a woman who had 10 silver coins. If she lost one of those coins, she would surely light a lamp, sweep her entire house, and carefully search for the coin until she found it. She, too, upon finding the lost coin, would call her friends and neighbors together to rejoice with her for having found this important item.
The third parable spoke of a man who had two sons. When the younger one insisted that the father give him his inheritance, even though the father was not yet dead, the father did so. The boy took his newfound wealth, went far away from home, and wasted his entire inheritance. Then, when a famine hit, he needed food, so he got a job feeding pigs. No one would give him anything, and he became so hungry he thought about eating the pigs’ food. But then “he came to himself,” humbled himself, and returned home to his father to admit his mistake. He hoped the father would at least let him be a hired servant. To his surprise, the father welcomed him back with hugs, kisses, rejoicing, and a celebration party!
But the older brother became very upset. He did not want to accept his wayward brother back into the family. He felt that since he had not done what his wasteful brother had done, then he should have been given better treatment. Here is the main point of all three of Jesus’ parables: we should not have bad attitudes toward people who have sinned when those people want to come back to God. We should rejoice and accept them, even though they may have done terrible things. We should not think we are better than them, since we have all sinned and made mistakes (Romans 3:23).