The Parable of the Prodigal Son

One day many tax collectors and other outcasts came to listen to Jesus. Now many of them were not good people so the priests and teachers of the law started grumbling.  "This man welcomes outcasts and even eats with them." 
They thought that good people should have nothing to do with people who were not very good and that they were lost to God.  They thought that God only wanted to punish people who did wrong.

Now Jesus wanted to show that God still loved those who were lost and he longed for them to come back to him. He told three parables: The parable of the lost sheep, the parable of the lost coin and the parable of the lost son (the prodigal son)

This was the story that Jesus told:

There was once a man who had two sons.  One day the younger son came to him and said."Father, give me my share of the property now." so his father divided the property between his two sons. The younger son sold his share. He took the money and went to a country which was far away. He did not take care of the money but he spent it all having a good time. 

When he had spent it all, there was a famine and he found he had no money and nothing to eat.  He got  a job working on a farm feeding pigs.

 He knew he would not be paid any money until he had worked there for a time and he was very hungry indeed. He looked at the pigs eating the bean pods and even thought of eating some of the pig food himself. 

Then he realised how silly he had been.  He thought about home. He thought, "My father has paid workers who have enough to eat and more if they want it and I am going to starve. I will go to my father and say,'Father I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am not worthy to be your son. Treat me as one of your paid workers.'"

He set off and travelled home. His father saw him when he was still a long way away and he was filled with pity. 

He ran to meet him and threw his arms around him and kissed him.

The son said, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you and I am no longer worthy to be called your son."

But his father told his servants, "Hurry! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and shoes on his feet.  Then go and kill the prize calf and kill it. We will have a feast to celebrate.  My son has come back to me. I felt that I had lost him and he was dead. Now I know he is alive and I have him back."

The feast began.

The older son was out working in the field and he heard the noise of feasting. He asked one of the servants what was going on. 

The servant said,"Your brother has returned and your father has killed the prize calf. We are having a feast to celebrate."

The older son was very angry and he would not come into the house to join the feast.  His father came out and begged him to come in.

The older son said, "All these years I have worked for you like a slave. I have not once disobeyed your orders and you have not even given me a goat so that I could have a party with my friends. Now your other son has come back. He has wasted your money but you kill the prize calf and have a feast for him."

But the father said, "You are always here with me and all I have is yours but we need to celebrate and be happy because your brother was dead and is alive again. He was lost and is found."

Now in this parable the younger son represents someone who has done wrong and turned away from God. The father represents God. He cares deeply for the person who has done wrong and he longs for him to come back.  When the wrong doer is sorry and turns back to God, God goes to meet him and is full of joy. 

The older brother represents someone who has tried hard to be good but thinks that he should not have anything to do with wrong doers.  God wants him to understand that wrong doers are still important to him.

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