As you read or watch a story, you may find yourself asking, “Which character am I?”
It’s human nature to want to connect to a story by placing ourselves within it. Jesus, being the master communicator that He was, knew this, and used this as a tool to connect with His audience and move them to action.
At the very beginning of Luke Chapter 15, we see that there were two types of people standing in the crowd before Jesus. We’re told first that there are “tax collectors and sinners,” and secondly, that there are “Pharisees and scribes.”
So with His current audience in mind, Jesus tells a story that places both types of listeners (sinners and Pharisees) as characters in the narrative.
Even today as we read this parable of the Prodigal Son, we have to understand that we fit in to one of these two categories of people in the crowd. You either perceive yourself as a sinner, aware of your brokenness, or you view yourself as the Pharisees saw themselves–proud of your ability to be a “good person” and follow the rules.
In Romans 3:23, we read that all of us fall short of the glory of God. Within this one verse, we find the message Jesus was preparing to teach to the crowd of listeners. Our good behavior doesn’t rescue us from sin; we all stand before God broken, and in need of a Savior.
Like the members in the crowd Jesus spoke to that day, it’s crucial we understand this. We can’t engage with this story as a neutral bystander. We have to take an honest look at ourselves and admit we’re either reading this as a self-righteous Pharisee, or a humbled sinner.
Which character are you in the crowd of listeners?
Spend a moment in prayer asking God to show you the ways you act like a sinner or a Pharisee.