Few stories in the Bible have received more attention than the parable of the prodigal son. We hear this story in many sermons, Bible classes, and devos; and many times we miss the point of the whole parable. In order to truly understand this parable and its message, we must go back to the context of the passage. Luke 15 opens with the publicans and sinners coming to hear Jesus. As Jesus is teaching the multitude, the Pharisees begin to murmur amongst themselves about how Jesus was receiving sinners and eating with them. Jesus knew what they were thinking and spoke to the crowd. He began by talking about how a shepherd would search for a sheep if it were lost. He mentioned how there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels when one sinner repents. He then discusses how a woman would sweep and search diligently until she found a coin that she had lost. Finally, Jesus tells the parable of the prodigal son. The younger son asked his father if he could have the inheritance that would be left for him, and he went out and spent his money with harlots and with riotous living. The son then runs out of money, and the friends that he had while he was rich were now gone. He then gets a job as a pig keeper. He was so hungry that he wanted the pig’s food. He then comes to himself, and he decides that he will go home and be a servant for his father. The boy then leaves the hog pin (the world) and goes home. He gets close to his house, and when the father sees him coming from a long way off, and he runs to him and tells his servants to celebrate.
This is where the majority of people stop or they forget the rest of the parable. There was one other character. As the oldest son is coming back, he hears the sounds of the party, and he refuses to come in. The father then goes out to his son and asks him to explain the problem. The son tells the father that he had not had a fatted calf with his friends. The father then tells the young man that his brother was back and that it was necessary to celebrate. The older son represents the Pharisees. Jesus called out the Pharisees on their discrimination against those who would listen to Him. The older brother is one of those lessons that is not covered as much, but it is a passage that is filled with valuable lessons for us today. Let us always strive to live as loving, forgiving, and godly in our world today.