Luke 15:11-32, A Tale of Two Sons

The sermon text for this Lord’s Day tells one of the best known and best-loved stories in the Gospels: the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). Close look at the text and its context reveals that is not just a story about son who went astray, but it is primarily about a second son who stayed home. The two sons represent two groups of people introduced in Luke 15:1-3: sinners and the self-righteous. The story describes a son whose sinful choice left him in the worst state imaginable. But he came to his senses, returned to his father, and cried out for mercy. The father, in an act of amazing grace, welcomed his lost son home. Great joy followed his return. Jesus then told of a second son—a son smug in his own self-righteousness and angry at the father for the forgiveness he lavished on the first son. Thus, the story ends with an ironic plot twist revealing that the second son is in a worse state than his prodigal brother.