The Prodigal Son examined

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Macabeus

Active member
Dec 27, 2018
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#1
Introduction VERY IMPORTANT- When you interpret a parable, you first examine setting, who is being addressed, purpose, why the parable is being told, etc. So let's do that, shall we?

Context-

A. Setting- Pharisees complain about Jesus eating with sinners

Who addressed to- Scribes and Pharisees

Purpose. To rebuke the Pharisees for criticizing Jesus for eating with sinners when they should have been rejoicing at the salvation of sinners. The Son of man did not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance, to seek and save the lost, etc.

B. Observations- The parable of the lost sheep, lost coin, lost son all have the same elements and meaning except there is an element ommitted on the prodigal son, which we will look at later. By the way, when interpreting a parable, you look for one main truth.

Here are the elements that are common to all three stories in Luke 15

A. Possessions. 100 sheep, 10 coins, 2 sons.

B. Loss. One is lost in each story

C. Search. There is a search for that which is lost. Jesus came to seek and to save the lost

D. The lost is found

E. A call for a celebration.

F. Then the first two stories tell of joy in heaven. The prodigal story just mentions a celebration. Joy is not mentioned. Because the very one who should be rejoicing with His Father is not rejoicing

G. The Father entreats the son to join in the celebration, because it is only fitting to rejoice that the younger son has come home

Interpretation- The meaning of the parable is clear. Jesus is saying that if the Pharisees heart was right they would rejoice in the sinners coming to Him. This is the main point that the parable makes. The parable is directed at people who are not happy when a wayward child comes home. And since it is directed at the Pharisees, the elder son is actually the main point

Who does the prodigal represent? The prodigal represents wayward sinners who come to Jesus, in context the publicans and sinners. The passage is VERY CLEAR what the prodigal represents, and the intent is also very clear. The Prodigal represents any sinner that comes to Jesus. The elder represents anyone who judges and condemns these "little sheep" that come to salvation

The parable is about the Publicans and sinners, about us and about everyone who comes to Jesus, and it is about anyone who judges one of God's little sheep

Other applications- Last note. The Publicans and sinners were not saved until they came to Jesus. The parable in it's original intent is not about backsliders, although it can be used in that application but that Is an applicantion, Not the original intent which is determined by context.

If it was about saved people who backslide, that would mean that the Publicans and sinners were saved, backslid, and were coming back to Jesus in the setting of Luke 15. That does not seem to be what the context is saying. SO while a backslider can be a prodigal that comes home, that is not the original intent of the parable. It is a possible application, but not the original meaning. Always interpret what the speaker or writer is originally sayingto say before you apply it. There can be many applications of a text, but only one interpretation. Too many people jump straight to application and ignore interpretation, and miss the actual meaning of a text.

Good exegesis leads to sound doctrine.

The Father is the fountain of Living Water, Jesus is the River that flows down to us from Him, and the Holy Spirit is the Living Water...drink deeply and live
 

Macabeus

Active member
Dec 27, 2018
269
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#3
Continued- clarification of application-

a. Some apply this parable to backslidden Christians that wander away and are restored by the Good shepherd, and that is a good application, but the primary meaning refers to the publicans and sinners, ie previously UNSAVED people coming to Jesus. The reason I say this, is because of the context and setting.

b. The original intent is of unsaved people coming to Jesus, as can be seen by the words "dead", "lost", as well as Jesus' words in other contexts about eating with Publicans and sinners like "I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance" and "the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost".

c. So while a backslider can become a wandering child and return, (and I believe will return), that is not what this parable's original intention or meaning.

d. Jesus indeed seeks for and restores backsliders, so that is an acceptable and good application, but that is not the central point of the parable. The parable is directed at the Pharisees and the fact that they despised the Little sheep coming to Jesus.

e. If we jump straight to application without considering context and original intent, we miss the actual truth that the passage is conveying, which is tragic.
 

Macabeus

Active member
Dec 27, 2018
269
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#4
I'm not concerned with praise. My only concern is truth. Exegesis of scripture is not private. No scripture is of any private interpretation. Good exegesis is that which says what the scripture says. Blessings.
 

Dino246

Senior Member
Jun 30, 2015
7,241
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113
#5
I'm not concerned with praise. My only concern is truth. Exegesis of scripture is not private. No scripture is of any private interpretation. Good exegesis is that which says what the scripture says. Blessings.
Exegesis is necessarily private, though the process might be shared with a few others. Once you have completed your exegesis, then you share the results publicly.

You have misquoted and apparently misunderstood the portion in bold. It actually says "no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation". It means that genuine prophecy does not originate in man's thoughts. Sound exegesis is impossible if you misread the text.

By the way, it seems you missed the point of my previous post. :)
 

Macabeus

Active member
Dec 27, 2018
269
147
43
#6
quote- Exegesis is necessarily private, though the process might be shared with a few others. Once you have completed your exegesis, then you share the results publicly.

I meant that there are not private interpretations of the Bible. There is only one interpretation of a scripture, though there may be many applications.

quote- You have misquoted and apparently misunderstood the portion in bold. It actually says "no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation". It means that genuine prophecy does not originate in man's thoughts.

I stand corrected on that. You are correct.

quote- Sound exegesis is impossible if you misread the text.

Agreed.

quote- By the way, it seems you missed the point of my previous post. :)

Sorry. What was your point? I'm a little defensive at times because of certain false accusations lurking around here.

Blessings.
 
Dec 12, 2013
33,798
5,157
113
#7
Introduction VERY IMPORTANT- When you interpret a parable, you first examine setting, who is being addressed, purpose, why the parable is being told, etc. So let's do that, shall we?

Context-

A. Setting- Pharisees complain about Jesus eating with sinners

Who addressed to- Scribes and Pharisees

Purpose. To rebuke the Pharisees for criticizing Jesus for eating with sinners when they should have been rejoicing at the salvation of sinners. The Son of man did not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance, to seek and save the lost, etc.

B. Observations- The parable of the lost sheep, lost coin, lost son all have the same elements and meaning except there is an element ommitted on the prodigal son, which we will look at later. By the way, when interpreting a parable, you look for one main truth.

Here are the elements that are common to all three stories in Luke 15

A. Possessions. 100 sheep, 10 coins, 2 sons.

B. Loss. One is lost in each story

C. Search. There is a search for that which is lost. Jesus came to seek and to save the lost

D. The lost is found

E. A call for a celebration.

F. Then the first two stories tell of joy in heaven. The prodigal story just mentions a celebration. Joy is not mentioned. Because the very one who should be rejoicing with His Father is not rejoicing

G. The Father entreats the son to join in the celebration, because it is only fitting to rejoice that the younger son has come home

Interpretation- The meaning of the parable is clear. Jesus is saying that if the Pharisees heart was right they would rejoice in the sinners coming to Him. This is the main point that the parable makes. The parable is directed at people who are not happy when a wayward child comes home. And since it is directed at the Pharisees, the elder son is actually the main point

Who does the prodigal represent? The prodigal represents wayward sinners who come to Jesus, in context the publicans and sinners. The passage is VERY CLEAR what the prodigal represents, and the intent is also very clear. The Prodigal represents any sinner that comes to Jesus. The elder represents anyone who judges and condemns these "little sheep" that come to salvation

The parable is about the Publicans and sinners, about us and about everyone who comes to Jesus, and it is about anyone who judges one of God's little sheep

Other applications- Last note. The Publicans and sinners were not saved until they came to Jesus. The parable in it's original intent is not about backsliders, although it can be used in that application but that Is an applicantion, Not the original intent which is determined by context.

If it was about saved people who backslide, that would mean that the Publicans and sinners were saved, backslid, and were coming back to Jesus in the setting of Luke 15. That does not seem to be what the context is saying. SO while a backslider can be a prodigal that comes home, that is not the original intent of the parable. It is a possible application, but not the original meaning. Always interpret what the speaker or writer is originally sayingto say before you apply it. There can be many applications of a text, but only one interpretation. Too many people jump straight to application and ignore interpretation, and miss the actual meaning of a text.

Good exegesis leads to sound doctrine.

The Father is the fountain of Living Water, Jesus is the River that flows down to us from Him, and the Holy Spirit is the Living Water...drink deeply and live
Can a son by birth ever not be a son by birth.....at what point was the prodigal...

a. Not a son by birth
b. Actually dead
 

Macabeus

Active member
Dec 27, 2018
269
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#8
Can a son by birth ever not be a son by birth.....at what point was the prodigal...

a. Not a son by birth
b. Actually dead
Glad you asked. When you interpret a parable, you are looking for what truth the parable is trying to teach. There is usually, if not always one main truth that is being taught., though there may be many interpretation. Often the intent is not to take the parable apart, examine every little piece separately, but to look at the whole picture, which is teaching a single overarching truth over the separate parts

If you read the three parables in Luke 15, the intent and meaning is clear. The parables occassion is the Pharisees complaining about Jesus eating with Publicans and sinners, AND THE PARABLE is directed at them. The prodigal son represents immediely the Publicans and sinners, and secondarily anyone who comes to Jesus from a life of sin. The elder son represents the Pharisees attitude. Self righteous, uncharitable, judgemental, unforgiving, unloving, not happy with the good news that the prodigal, (Publicans and sinners) are being saved.

Now to answer your questions. The prodigal never ceased to be a physical son, and the death was not a physical death, it was a relational separation. Like when we were dead in trespasses, we were not physically dead

But I must say the first question misses an important point. The prodigal son represents a wayward son that comes home. It is never used in scripture of someone who doesn't return. It is only used here of a wayward son coming home. So when some asked me what would have happened if he died before he returned to his father, I told them they compltely missed the point of the parable

A The parable is rebuking the Pharisees who were unlovingly criticizing Jesus for eating with sinners

B. The prodigal son represents wayward sinners who come to Jesus.

C. The parable is not meant to defend OSAS. That is taking it out of context to use it for something that it was not intended to be used for. I'm not saying yay or nay on OSAS here just saying that the over arching intent of the parable is not about that.

But I will say that I was a prodigal son, a prodigal Christian and I never stopped being a son and God brought me back

Thats what prodigal SONS do. If you don't come back, you're not nor were you ever a prodigal SON, because the prodigal son represents wayward souls WHO COME TO JESUS, and the intent of the parable is if your heart is right with God you will rejoice that they do, which the Pharisees failed to do

Blessings
 
Jul 18, 2017
7,089
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#9
Who does the prodigal represent? The prodigal represents wayward sinners who come to Jesus, in context the publicans and sinners.
The Father said that the Prodigal was *lost* and was *found*. That confirms what you have said. Also, for any parable, we are not to stretch meanings beyond certain limits.
 

Macabeus

Active member
Dec 27, 2018
269
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#10
The
The Father said that the Prodigal was *lost* and was *found*. That confirms what you have said. Also, for any parable, we are not to stretch meanings beyond certain limits.
Amen. If we do that, we would say that it is commendable to be an unjust steward. Parables have a very DEFINITE and specific meaning. The

Blessings
 
Apr 7, 2014
16,467
2,902
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52
#11
Good point Macabeus about interpreting a parable after first examining setting, who is being addressed, purpose, why the parable is being told, etc. (y)

Certain people will argue that the prodigal son was spiritually alive, then spiritually died (lost his salvation) and was spiritually alive again (regained his salvation) from Luke 15:32 based on certain translations which read: ..thy brother was dead, and is alive AGAIN (KJV) ..for your brother was dead and is alive AGAIN (NKJV) ..this brother of yours was dead and is alive AGAIN (NIV)

Others will argue that in this parable, being made "alive again" foreshadows the "born again" experience that Jesus spoke of in John 3:3. Of course Jesus wasn't talking about being born again spiritually again and again. We are born once physically and born "again" once spiritually.

I find it interesting that certain translations of Luke 15:32 simply say your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found (ESV); your brother was dead, but now he is alive. He was lost, but now he is found (NCV); this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found (NRS); this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found (NAS).
 

Macabeus

Active member
Dec 27, 2018
269
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#12
Good point Macabeus about interpreting a parable after first examining setting, who is being addressed, purpose, why the parable is being told, etc. (y)

Certain people will argue that the prodigal son was spiritually alive, then spiritually died (lost his salvation) and was spiritually alive again (regained his salvation) from Luke 15:32 based on certain translations which read: ..thy brother was dead, and is alive AGAIN (KJV) ..for your brother was dead and is alive AGAIN (NKJV) ..this brother of yours was dead and is alive AGAIN (NIV)

Others will argue that in this parable, being made "alive again" foreshadows the "born again" experience that Jesus spoke of in John 3:3. Of course Jesus wasn't talking about being born again spiritually again and again. We are born once physically and born "again" once spiritually.

I find it interesting that certain translations of Luke 15:32 simply say your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found (ESV); your brother was dead, but now he is alive. He was lost, but now he is found (NCV); this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found (NRS); this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found (NAS).
Amen. You don't get resurrected and die and get resurrected again in multiple new births. One new birth, though there may be more than one realignment.
 

John146

Senior Member
Jan 13, 2016
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#13
Amen. You don't get resurrected and die and get resurrected again in multiple new births. One new birth, though there may be more than one realignment.
I enjoyed reading your explanation. My question would be, who preached to the prodigal to have him repent? Lost sinners just don't turn to the Lord Jesus Christ on their own. They must hear the word of the Lord to turn to Him. This prodigal remembered who he was and the goodness he enjoyed when he was close to his father.

Your thoughts?
 

Macabeus

Active member
Dec 27, 2018
269
147
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#14
I enjoyed reading your explanation. My question would be, who preached to the prodigal to have him repent? Lost sinners just don't turn to the Lord Jesus Christ on their own. They must hear the word of the Lord to turn to Him. This prodigal remembered who he was and the goodness he enjoyed when he was close to his father.

Your thoughts?
Thanks Jesus preached to the Publicans and sinners, who the Prodigal represents, and they came because they were drawn of the Father

The fact that the parable does not mention external means is inconsequential. As I said, a parable is meant to convey one overarching truth, not many sundry truths gleaned from dissecting it's parts
 

John146

Senior Member
Jan 13, 2016
5,606
336
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#15
Thanks Jesus preached to the Publicans and sinners, who the Prodigal represents, and they came because they were drawn of the Father

The fact that the parable does not mention external means is inconsequential. As I said, a parable is meant to convey one overarching truth, not many sundry truths gleaned from dissecting it's parts
I do see how Israel , overall, had lost it's way and needed to return to the Lord their God.
 

JaumeJ

Senior Member
Jul 2, 2011
14,449
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#16
The prodigal, reflecting on his home life with his father while he had hit the skids, realized he was better off with his father than on his own. Even his father's servants had a better life than he was living. He then went to his father, and he repented his ways to his father who had never stopped loving him and he was welcomed home as though he had come back from the dead.

I like to believe his brother eventually realized how joyous his return was to the father and to him. We rejoice when all sinners come to the Lord, Jesus, so this is but a reflection of this event.

Would Anyi here reject a repented sinners simply because his or her former sins repulsed ? We must welcome all into the fold, no exceptions of any who are repented…..no, not at all.
 

Dino246

Senior Member
Jun 30, 2015
7,241
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#17
I meant that there are not private interpretations of the Bible. There is only one interpretation of a scripture, though there may be many applications.
In general, I agree... there is only one correct interpretation: what God intended it to mean. That can be multifaceted... or not.

Sorry. What was your point? I'm a little defensive at times because of certain false accusations lurking around here.
In your first post, you seemed to be claiming that your exegesis was good. I was suggesting that you let others say that. Ultimately, the praise we should seek is from the Lord.

I hear you about the false accusations. I have little patience for them, especially when they are completely unnecessary, inappropriate, and baseless. It should be easier to ignore them! :)
 

Hevosmies

Well-known member
Sep 8, 2018
1,719
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#18
The Father said that the Prodigal was *lost* and was *found*. That confirms what you have said. Also, for any parable, we are not to stretch meanings beyond certain limits.
Yup definately lets not stretch the meanings.

i've seen some sermons on "animals in the bible" and how animals ALWAYS represent the same thing but thats not true.

Jesus is equated to a Lion, so is the devil. Lion of Judah vs lion seeking whom he may devour.

Snakes are usually negative in the bible (serpent) but there is also the positive of people looking to the bronze serpent and being healed, which is also a picture of Jesus in the NT.
 
Oct 31, 2015
1,388
320
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#19
Introduction VERY IMPORTANT- When you interpret a parable, you first examine setting, who is being addressed, purpose, why the parable is being told, etc. So let's do that, shall we?

Context-

A. Setting- Pharisees complain about Jesus eating with sinners

Who addressed to- Scribes and Pharisees

Purpose. To rebuke the Pharisees for criticizing Jesus for eating with sinners when they should have been rejoicing at the salvation of sinners. The Son of man did not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance, to seek and save the lost, etc.

B. Observations- The parable of the lost sheep, lost coin, lost son all have the same elements and meaning except there is an element ommitted on the prodigal son, which we will look at later. By the way, when interpreting a parable, you look for one main truth.

Here are the elements that are common to all three stories in Luke 15

A. Possessions. 100 sheep, 10 coins, 2 sons.

B. Loss. One is lost in each story

C. Search. There is a search for that which is lost. Jesus came to seek and to save the lost

D. The lost is found

E. A call for a celebration.

F. Then the first two stories tell of joy in heaven. The prodigal story just mentions a celebration. Joy is not mentioned. Because the very one who should be rejoicing with His Father is not rejoicing

G. The Father entreats the son to join in the celebration, because it is only fitting to rejoice that the younger son has come home

Interpretation- The meaning of the parable is clear. Jesus is saying that if the Pharisees heart was right they would rejoice in the sinners coming to Him. This is the main point that the parable makes. The parable is directed at people who are not happy when a wayward child comes home. And since it is directed at the Pharisees, the elder son is actually the main point

Who does the prodigal represent? The prodigal represents wayward sinners who come to Jesus, in context the publicans and sinners. The passage is VERY CLEAR what the prodigal represents, and the intent is also very clear. The Prodigal represents any sinner that comes to Jesus. The elder represents anyone who judges and condemns these "little sheep" that come to salvation

The parable is about the Publicans and sinners, about us and about everyone who comes to Jesus, and it is about anyone who judges one of God's little sheep

Other applications- Last note. The Publicans and sinners were not saved until they came to Jesus. The parable in it's original intent is not about backsliders, although it can be used in that application but that Is an applicantion, Not the original intent which is determined by context.

If it was about saved people who backslide, that would mean that the Publicans and sinners were saved, backslid, and were coming back to Jesus in the setting of Luke 15. That does not seem to be what the context is saying. SO while a backslider can be a prodigal that comes home, that is not the original intent of the parable. It is a possible application, but not the original meaning. Always interpret what the speaker or writer is originally sayingto say before you apply it. There can be many applications of a text, but only one interpretation. Too many people jump straight to application and ignore interpretation, and miss the actual meaning of a text.

Good exegesis leads to sound doctrine.

The Father is the fountain of Living Water, Jesus is the River that flows down to us from Him, and the Holy Spirit is the Living Water...drink deeply and live

Yes good exegesis leads to sound doctrine.


Unfortunately, that’s not the case with your post.


Jesus is teaching His disciples, with the Pharisee’s listening, what to do if a person wanders away from the truth, by sinning against a brother.


Here is the same parable from Matthew.




“What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish. “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. Matthew 18:12-17


  • If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying?
  • And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray.



Jesus defines the steps to take, to go after a person who has sinned against you to get them to repent:


  1. “Moreover [likewise] if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.
  2. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.
  3. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’
  4. And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.



James says it this way -


Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.
James 5:19-20


  • Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth
  • and someone turns him back
  • let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way
  • will save a soul from death


Found = Reconciled to God: Justified - Declared to be right with God.


Lost = Seperated from God. Unjust. Unrighteous. A Sinner in need of repentance.


For one of His sheep to become lost, it must first belong to the Shepherd.



JPT
 
Dec 12, 2013
33,798
5,157
113
#20
Glad you asked. When you interpret a parable, you are looking for what truth the parable is trying to teach. There is usually, if not always one main truth that is being taught., though there may be many interpretation. Often the intent is not to take the parable apart, examine every little piece separately, but to look at the whole picture, which is teaching a single overarching truth over the separate parts

If you read the three parables in Luke 15, the intent and meaning is clear. The parables occassion is the Pharisees complaining about Jesus eating with Publicans and sinners, AND THE PARABLE is directed at them. The prodigal son represents immediely the Publicans and sinners, and secondarily anyone who comes to Jesus from a life of sin. The elder son represents the Pharisees attitude. Self righteous, uncharitable, judgemental, unforgiving, unloving, not happy with the good news that the prodigal, (Publicans and sinners) are being saved.

Now to answer your questions. The prodigal never ceased to be a physical son, and the death was not a physical death, it was a relational separation. Like when we were dead in trespasses, we were not physically dead

But I must say the first question misses an important point. The prodigal son represents a wayward son that comes home. It is never used in scripture of someone who doesn't return. It is only used here of a wayward son coming home. So when some asked me what would have happened if he died before he returned to his father, I told them they compltely missed the point of the parable

A The parable is rebuking the Pharisees who were unlovingly criticizing Jesus for eating with sinners

B. The prodigal son represents wayward sinners who come to Jesus.

C. The parable is not meant to defend OSAS. That is taking it out of context to use it for something that it was not intended to be used for. I'm not saying yay or nay on OSAS here just saying that the over arching intent of the parable is not about that.

But I will say that I was a prodigal son, a prodigal Christian and I never stopped being a son and God brought me back

Thats what prodigal SONS do. If you don't come back, you're not nor were you ever a prodigal SON, because the prodigal son represents wayward souls WHO COME TO JESUS, and the intent of the parable is if your heart is right with God you will rejoice that they do, which the Pharisees failed to do

Blessings
The difference between FELLOWSHIP and SONSHIP........and to say we cannot glean truth from EVERY ASPECT of a parable goes against...EVERY WORD OF GOD IS INSPIRED AND PROFITABLE FOR.........<---2ND Timothy 3:16-17