In Luke 15, Jesus told three “Parables of Lostness.” In this parabolic trilogy of lostness, something very striking happens. Each underscores the loser’s sense of loss, tells of the thrill of rediscovery, and ends with a scene of jubilation. The refrain of rejoice is heard at the conclusion of all three parables of the lost (see vv. 6, 9, 23, 32).
Jesus talked about lost sheep who needed a shepherd; about a lost coin that had value and needed to be put back into the future bride’s headband and eventually into circulation; about two lost sons - one who left home and found slavery and one who stayed at home but viewed working for his father as slavery and was far from the father’s heart.
In the first two parables of lostness, someone goes looking for the lost coin and someone goes looking for the lost sheep. But in this third parable, no one goes looking for the lost younger brother. The searchers of the coin and sheep let nothing distract them. Their sole purpose is to find at any cost that which is lost. But when we come to the Prodigal Son parable, no one searches. And Jesus sets up the question by the way he tells the previous two parables of lostness: “Who should have gone out and searched for the lost son?” And who should have concluded this trilogy of parables on a note of joy but there’s bitterness instead?
We are all prodigals. We’ve taken the gifts of the Father and we’ve been wasteful with those gifts and we’ve misused those gifts and we’ve hurt others with those gifts and we’ve incurred a debt. We all need a true elder brother who will foot our bill.
Jesus is the elder brother that you’ve never had. We needed One who would not just go to a far country looking for us. We needed One who would come all the way from heaven to earth. We needed One who was willing to pay, even with his own life, to bring us home to be with Dad again. And moved by the sight of what it costs our true elder brother, He would forever win our hearts. We can move this story from an unfinished ending to a delayed ending if you decide in light of it to come home. If you’re a prodigal, you’re never going to find home anywhere but in your Father’s arms.