This particular parable speaks to us all on many levels because it has emotions in it that we can easily identify with. It has grief, joy, desperation, elation, rage. It is also kind of open ended and unresolved, like life. This story that Jesus gives us just doesn’t have a happily ever after kind of feeling we like from stories and movies.
There are questions in this parable which we must search ourselves to answer?
- Did Dave, Jr. back down to the house and go in?
- Does Dave, Jr. accept his brother back with open arms, eventually?
- Are they like the boys on the Ponderosa, who watch out for each other but never seem to quite have it together? (you know- Adam, Hoss and Little Jo)
- Does Dave, Jr leave the farm?
- Will Philip really see the light and get his act together?
These are human concerns and have little to do with what Jesus is talking about in this moment? Christ’s purpose in using these three parables was to demonstrate the magnanimity and grandness of God’s love for all of his children, especially the lost ones.
Although he has probably had his heart broken and been deeply wounded by his younger son's foolishness and rebellion, Dave, Sr. expressed pure and unadulterated joy, when his contrary son came dragging home. Who would not be moved by that kind of love? Dave, Jr. (the younger son) has only steely-hearted resentment over the father's mercy to his brother.
The central message of the parable, then, is an urgent and sobering entreaty to hard-hearted listeners whose attitudes mirrored the elder brother's. The parable of the prodigal son is not a warm and fuzzy feel-good message, but it is a powerful wake-up call with a very solemn warning.