Thoughts for the Day

Saturday, 2nd March 2024: The two sons

Tax-collectors Pharisees Parable Sin Forgiveness Jesus Luke 15

Reading : Verses from Luke, Chapter 15

Prodigal Son

Now all the tax-collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to Jesus. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, ‘This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.’

So he told them this parable: ‘There was a man who had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, “Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.” So he divided his property between them. A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and travelled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself he said, “How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.’” So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. Then the son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” But the father said to his slaves, “Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!” And they began to celebrate.

‘Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. He replied, “Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.” Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. But he answered his father, “Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!” Then the father said to him, “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.”’

(Lectionary, New Revised Standard Version)


Most of us know this parable well, but for those who don't, notice this: The younger son knows his sin (he represents the sinners and tax-collectors of Jesus' time), the elder son (represents the Pharisees) and he does not see the need to welcome the sinner back. The younger had to resort to scrabbling in the dirt with the pigs which would have been anathema to any strict Jew, making him ceremonially unclean and therefore an outcast from society. His father (represents God) welcomes him back when he repents, coming to meet him before he even asks for forgiveness with open arms.

The message for us today is a little more mixed, for we can be a mixture of both brothers. We can be like the younger brother and wander away from God and from the Church. Or we can get so caught up in day-to-day life that we find no time to pray and no time to learn about our faith. Or like the elder son we can be so sure that we are pretty good at this religion lark, after all we believe in God and go to Church, that we look down on those who don't or those who don't fit our exacting demands of what a Christian should be like.

Jesus says that we are all sinners, but when we admit our sin God is already coming to welcome us back with open arms. Today's prayer says it all. It is the prayer from Common Worship often used after Communion - notice the reference to this parable in the third and fourth lines!


Father of all,
we give you thanks and praise,
that when we were still far off
you met us in your Son and brought us home.
Dying and living, he declared your love,
gave us grace, and opened the gate of glory.
May we who drink his cup bring life to others;
we whom the Spirit lights give light to the world.
Keep us firm in the hope you have set before us,
so we and all your children shall be free,
and whole earth live to praise your name;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Follow Up Thoughts

You might like to find out a little more about the picture above:

Return to index