One of the greatest stories ever told has been called the “Prodigal Son.” And it was told by the greatest story teller in the history of the world, Jesus.The word “prodigal” means extremely wasteful. The younger son in this story was indeed that. He insulted his father asking for his share of the inheritance. It was as if he said, “It would be better for me if you were dead.” And he traveled to a far a distant country and wasted it all.
But it is important not to miss the point of the story. At the beginning of the story, there is something that happens that prompts it. The religious leaders, the Pharisees, and the Bible teachers are complaining because Jesus is welcoming and eating with sinners. So Jesus tells the story to them, the author Luke records.
There ia an older brother in this story who is the picture of the religious folks. He kept the fathers rules. He obeyed the father all the time. But he didn’t understand the father’s heart. While his younger brother was unrighteous, the older brother was self-righteous.
In the end, the father pleads with the older son to come in and celebrate the return of his brother. THere are two lost sons in this story. The younger son was lost in rebellion. In the end he is saved. The older son is lost in religion. We don’t know the final word on him. The last we know he refuses the invitation.
If churches today are not attracting the same kind of people that Jesus attracted, is it possible that we are teaching the wrong message? Sinners came to Jesus. They didn’t come to the religious people. It is a great story, but important that we not miss the point.