17 "When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.' 20 So he got up and went to his father. "But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. 21 "The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' 22 "But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate.
25 "Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 'Your brother has come,' he replied, 'and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.'
28 "The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, 'Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!'
31 " 'My son,' the father said, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.'
Thoughts: It needs to be remembered that Jesus told this parable about caring for the lost- as he was criticized for eating and drinking with "sinners." So the youngest sons' humble repentance contrasts with the older son's pride and jealousy. Our sense of fairness and pride can actually distort reality and keep us from celebrating a valid joy. In our culture we are subtley taught religious superiority and to put up walls against those who believe differently from us. Christians are to have compassion for those who have wandered away in life. We are to have missionary hearts, not proud and isolated hearts (as the oldest son had). It would be great today to look for those who are wandering away and seek to do something to draw them closer to God- perhaps eating with them.
Prayer: Lord, give me a heart for prodigals. Help me to care more about the souls of others than the soiling of my reputation or comfort.
John Calvin Commentary Abridged: The last part of the parable charges those who would limit the grace of God with wickedness. While this was directed toward the proud scribes, it has a lesson for us all in that if we wish to be considered children of God, then we must forgive our brother as the Father forgives us.