Whatever happened to the second son?
The Prodigal Son. He’s famous. His older brother is often forgotten...
The Prodigal Son. He’s famous. His story is famous. It’s a much loved story of God’s amazing love.
The Older Son. He isn’t famous. His story isn’t well known. Often when we reflect on Luke 15 we stop at verse 24.
We have the story of the Lost Sheep (vv1-7).
We have the story of the Lost Coin (vv8-10).
We have the story of the Lost Son (vv11-24).
We forget the story of the Lost Son II (vv25-32).
It’s obvious that the younger son is lost. He tells his dad that he wishes he were dead (v12). He gets his share of the inheritance early and moves to a foreign land and wastes it all in wild living (v13). When tough times hit – the son comes to his senses and returns to his loving Father (v20).
There are two types of people present when Jesus tells these three parables: the tax collectors and sinners (v1) and the Pharisees and teachers of the law (v2). The tax collectors and sinners can clearly identify with the story of the Prodigal son. They, like the Prodigal, have wandered a far way from God and need to come home to him. They are the ones with ears to hear (14:35) who have come to hear (15:1) the offer of forgiveness from Jesus.
The Pharisees are more like the older son. They may not have wandered as far from God, they may not have squandered everything on wild living like the sinners and the first son, but they still need to recognise that without relationship with God they are lost. Their trust is in themselves rather than God. They claim to know God but don’t really know him.
What’s the point of this parable? There are two lost sons, not one. Both of them need to come home to their father. It seems that the first son does. The older son? Does he? We don’t find out. This is good – it leaves hope that even Pharisees (have you heard of Saul of Tarsus???) and religious nuts can come home to God.
Have you come home to God? God offers remarkable love and forgiveness in Jesus. The ultimate demonstration of God’s love is Jesus’ death for sinners (Romans 5:8). At the cross of Jesus, God is calling both religious nuts and worldly pagans, to come back home.