Sheep And Coins
In the previous chapter, we discovered that Jesus demands uncompromising discipleship. Chapter 15 of Luke's Gospel highlights that the individuals we deem suitable as disciples may not necessarily be true followers of Jesus. Although the Pharisees appear to be ideal candidates, their opposition to Jesus throughout the Gospel casts doubt on their loyalty. On the other hand, sinners and tax collectors are drawn to Jesus, but the Pharisees and scribes criticize him for associating with them. In response to this accusation, Jesus shares three parables in chapter 15 - the parables of the lost sheep (15:3-7), the lost coin (vv. 8-10), and the two lost sons (vv. 11-32). The first two parables celebrate the joy of retrieving something lost, and the third parable is considered by many to be Jesus' most famous parable. This defense by Jesus illustrates that the worthiness of a disciple is not measured by outward appearances but by their willingness to repent from sin.
Jesus uses yet another parable in response to the criticisms of the Pharisees and scribes. Unlike the previous two parables about a lost sheep and a lost coin, this one involves two lost sons. The commonly used name "prodigal son" overlooks the important theme of the older son, who represents the Pharisees and scribes and is also lost despite living in the father's house. The father in the story divides his property between his two sons, leading to the younger son squandering his share and suffering until realizing that he would be happier serving his father than living in poverty. Upon returning home, the father, filled with compassion, meets him and welcomes him back with open arms. However, the older son is angry and refuses to join in the celebration for his younger brother. The parable ends with the older son's resentment and unwillingness to join the party. At the same time, his anger consumes him, reflecting the Pharisee's and scribes' anger towards the repentance of tax collectors and sinners.
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