Luke 15:11-32: The Parable of the Two Lost Sons

The parable of the prodigal son is probably the most famous parable in the gospels. But I think like many that it has been misnamed. Some have thought to call it the parable of the Prodigal Father, this is because the word prodigal means ‘spendthrift’ and the Father who represents God and His restoring grace is so generous. But I think this is a bad title as ‘prodigal’ has many bad connotations. Some have thought to call it the Parable of the Older Brother, this is a good title which is better than the parable of the prodigal son because Christ’s intended target for the teaching of this parable were the Pharisees who were represented by the older brother who refused to accept his brother back. But I have chosen as a title, the parable of the two lost sons, I think this covers the reality that there is more than one way to be separated from God, and in this parable we see the Father being compassionate to both and seeking to restore both.

We are looking today at this the third of three similar parables. We have looked at the parable of the lost sheep and the lost coin and have seen God’s joy in searching for and saving sinners. Through the pictures of a shepherd enduring a hostile search; and a housewife on her hands and knees combing through dirt all in order to find us. Through these pictures we have learnt about the willingness of our God to save us. The occasion for these parables was the grumbling of the religious leaders who resented the fact that sinners were drawn to Christ and that He was willing to associate with them and minister to them. This third parable has the most detail about the Father’s willing acceptance of penitent sinners and is pointed in its challenge to the legalists about their lovelessness and misunderstanding of grace.

We will look at this section under three heading following the three main characters of our parable, the younger son, the Father, the older son.

(Apologies for the low audio quality and missing parts of this recording)