Luke 15:11

ESV And he said, "There was a man who had two sons.
NIV Jesus continued: "There was a man who had two sons.
NASB And He said, 'A man had two sons.
CSB He also said: "A man had two sons.
NLT To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: 'A man had two sons.
KJV And he said, A certain man had two sons:
NKJV Then He said: “A certain man had two sons.

What does Luke 15:11 mean?

Pharisees have criticized Jesus for fellowshipping with tax collectors and sinners. Jesus has given two parables that begin by identifying the main character and describing what the person has lost: a shepherd and his sheep, then a woman and her coin. The stories go on to explain that the main characters go out of their way to seek what's out of place. That includes both the foolish sheep and the unwitting coin. The owners return them to safety and celebrate their restoration. The parables reveal that God will seek out the foolish and the unwitting who wander away from Him (Luke 15:1–10).

This verse sets the scene for the third parable in the same way. The father is the main character and represents God the Father and Jesus. The sons are those who are lost. The parable, however, is more involved. Unlike the sheep and the coin, the younger son becomes lost because he rebels against his father and intentionally stays away (Luke 15:12–16). The older son is not lost geographically, but he is lost relationally (Luke 15:28–30).

How the father reacts is also unique. He doesn't search for the rebellious son. He waits until the son shows the slightest sign of repentance and then, rather scandalously, rushes to restore him (Luke 15:17–24). When the older son starts to act like he is lost relationally, the father goes to him and graciously explains that all he must do is turn around and realize they have always been together (Luke 15:31).
What is the Gospel?
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