Yesterday I preached on the Lost Son (see sermon below). In the Parable, the Lost Son = the Tax Collectors and Sinners that found favor with Christ; the older brother = the Jews/Pharisees who refused to celebrate with heavenly joy at their repentance. The father = Christ (it’s okay, I’m not a heretic. In the parable of the Lost Coin Christ is depicted as a woman, so there). The Parable describes the repentance of the Gentiles and “sinners” and illustrates Christ’s words: “There is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents…”
My colleague and circuit counselor took the Lost Son as Christ, who goes into a distant land (Incarnation) and squanders his Father’s inheritance (He was called a drunkard and a glutton for hanging out with prostitutes and “sinners”), and returns to his Father (death, resurrection, ascension). This my Son was dead (Crucifixion) and is alive (Resurrection), etc. The Jews (older brother) despise Christ for keeping company with prostitutes, etc. We debated this at Winkel, and I said I wouldn’t charge him with false doctrine for preaching it this way, though I didn’t think it was right on. Interestingly, I had this same idea at the seminary when I took Luke with Dr. Just. He didn’t care for the idea either.
We had an interesting discussion about it at my adult Catechism class later on. So, what do you think? Can the Lost Son be Christ? If nothing else, it is a creative way of preaching the Gospel in this text. One thing that is interesting about this pericope is that Buddha has his own version of the story. In his version, though, the Lost Son returns, and his father hides and watches him work, and sees how much he has grown, and then welcomes him. Can you say, “Religion of works”? Clearly the emphasis in this Parable is on the grace and compassion of Christ towards the “undeserving” sinners who were made alive in Christ, who were lost but now in Him they are found.