The Prodigal Son & The Pharisees – Luke 15
October 26, 2022
Luke 15:1-3. First notice Luke tells us Jesus tells a singular parable, not a series of parable, one parable with three parts. Some say or write the three parts represent the Trinity.
Luke 15:7, 10, 23. These three verses all have a common theme, when the lost is found it is time to celebrate.
The religious leaders of Jesus’ day divided humanity into two classes: the unclean and the righteous. They decided to live, as much as possible, in complete separation from the unclean. Some rabbis of Jesus day took this idea so seriously that they refused to teach the unclean God’s word (Morris).
Culturally, sharing food, especially bread, meant you and those you shared bread with became brothers. This is something they would do with one another, but not with those they considered unclean.
Luke 15:11-16. We are not yet told anything about the older son, only the younger and his incredible foolishness. Beyond being foolish he effectively treated his father as if he were already dead.
Then the economy turned bad, there was a severed famine in the country he was living in, so those who might have been generous were no longer generous as he was a visitor who had been living it up until his money ran out.
Plus, we know he would have been raised knowing Leviticus 11:7-8 which declares the pig as unclean for all Jews and they were not to eat their meat or touch their carcasses.
Luke 15:17-19. What we observe in these three verses is the younger son repenting in his heart and ready to return home.
Luke 15:20-24. While he was returning home, Jesus lets us know he was going to his father, not to the community or village, but to his father. His father had all the time he was gone had been keeping an eye out for his younger son to return. And when he saw him, he did not cross his arms and think as so many of us would, “Wonder what he has to say for himself?”
This is completely in line with what we read in verse seven and verse ten. Jesus here gives us a vivid representation of His Father celebrating the return of a repentant sinner.
Then we come to the elder son.
Luke 15:25-30. The older son was bitter, saying he never disobeyed and his father never gave him anything. They are lies at worst and exaggerations at best.
Two quotes from Guzik are fitting here; 1) The older brother was unappreciative of all he did have. “Every day he had his father’s company, and the blessed society of home. His father’s love was round about him constantly, and everything the father had was his.” (Morrison) 2) Yet, “The proud and the self-righteous always feel that they are not treated as well as they deserve.” (Morris)
Luke 15:31-32. The father reminds the older son all he has belongs to the him as he had already given the younger son his share of the inheritance. Then the father tenderly rebukes his older son when he tells him we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again.
This parable was also a rebuke of the Pharisees in 15:2 where Luke noted 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Their Jewish brothers! They had forgotten Micah 6:8, He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Jesus did not provide an ending to this parable. He left it up to the listeners (and readers) … did the older son admit his bitter churlishness and celebrate the return of his brother or did he remain self-righteous setting himself above his brother and his father.
Jesus later would say in Luke 19:10, 10 For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost after he told the tax collector Zaccheus, 9 Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham.
Everyone could be saved!