Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him.
Verses 1-32. - The Lord speaks his three parable-stories of the "lost," in which he explains his reason for loving and receiving the sinful. Verses 1, 2. - Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This Man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them; more accurately rendered, there were drawing near to him. This was now, in the last stage of the final journey, the usual state of things. The great outside- class came in crowds to listen to Jesus. These were men and women who, through home and family associations, through their occupations, which were looked upon with disfavour by the more rigid Jews, often no doubt through their own careless, indifferent character, had little or nothing to do with their religious and orthodox countrymen. Poor wanderers, sinners, thoughtless ones, no one cared for them, their present or their future. Do not these in every age make up the majority? The religious, so often Pharisees in heart, despising them, refusing to make allowances for them, looking on them as hopelessly lost ones. But at no time was this state of things so accentuated as when Jesus lived among men. Now, among such care. less irreligious men and women, are man whose hearts are very tender, very listen if the teacher of religion has Mud, wise words for them. The grave and severe, yet intensely pitiful and loving, doctrines of the Galilaean Master found such. His words were words of stern rebuke, and yet were full of hope, even for the hopeless. No man had ever spoken to them like this Man. Hence the crowds of publicans and sinners who were now ever pressing round the Master. But the teachers of Israel, the priestly order, the learned and rigid scribes, the honoured doctors Of the holy Law, - these were indignant, and on first thoughts not without reason, at the apparent preference felt for and special tenderness shown by Jesus to this great outside class of sinners. The three parables of this fifteenth chapter were the apologia of the Galilaean Master to orthodox Israel, but they appeal to an audience far greater than any enclosed in the coasts of the Holy Land, or living in that restless age,
And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.
And he spake this parable unto them, saying,
Verses 3-5. - And he spake this parable unto them, saying, What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness? Now, there are two leading ideas in the three stories - one on the side of the Speaker; one on the side of those to whom the parable-stories were spoken.
(1) On the side of the speaker. God's anxiety for sinners is shown; he pities with a great pity their wretchedness; he sets, besides, a high value on their souls, as part of a treasure belonging to him.
(2) On the side of the listeners. Their sympathy with him in his anxiety for stoners is claimed. He has sought it hitherto m vain. The imagery of the first story is very homely - easy, too, to understand. A small sheep-master pastures his little flock of a hundred sheep in one of those wide uncultivated plains which fringe portions of the land of promise. This is what we must understand by "the wilderness." The hundred sheep represent the people of Israel. The lost sheep, one who had broken with Jewish respectability. One only is mentioned as lost, not by any means as representing the small number of the outcast class - the contrary is the case - but as indicative of the value in the eyes of the All-Father of one immortal soul. And go after that which is lost, until he find it. And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. This diligent search after the lost one, the tender care shown by the shepherd when the object of his search was found, and the subsequent joy, pictured in a humble everyday figure the mode of acting of which the orthodox Jews complained. They said, "He receiveth stoners, and eateth with them."
What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?
And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.
Verse 6. - And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. And here the shepherd craves for sympathy from his fellows; he would have others share in his joy in finding the perishing, suffering sheep. This sympathy with his effort to win the lost the Galilaean Master had looked for among the rulers and teachers of Israel in vain. Now, sympathy, it must be remembered, is not merely sentiment or courtesy. True sympathy with a cause means working in good earnest for the cause. This, however, the ruling spirits in Israel, in every sect, coldly refused. They not only declined their sympathy with the acts of Jesus; they positively condemned his works, his efforts, his teaching.
I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.
Verse 7. - I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. "But," the Master went on to say, "what I looked for in vain on earth, see, I have found in heaven. What men coldly refused me, the celestials have joyfully given. These understand me. They love both me and my work, do the holy angels." This coldness, even opposition, on the part of the Pharisees and the religious men of Israel to himself and his works, to his teachings of mercy and love, seems certainly to be the reason why Jesus emphasizes, both here and in the next parable, the sympathy which he receives, not on earth from men, but in heaven from beings, inhabitants of another world. Men, have, however, asked - Why do these heavenly beings rejoice over the one more than over the ninety and nine? It is utterly insufficient to say that this joy is occasioned by the getting back something that was lost. Such a feeling is conceivable among men, though even here it would be an exaggerated sentiment, but in heaven, among the immortals, no such feeling could exist; it partakes too much of the sentimental, almost of the hysterical. This higher joy must be due to another cause. Now, the shepherd, when he found the wanderer, did not bring it back to the old fold, or replace it with the rest of the flock, but apparently (ver. 6) brought it to his own home. This would seem to indicate that sinners whom Jesus has come to save, and whom he has saved, are placed in a better position than that from which they originally wandered. This gives us the clue to the angels' joy over the "found one" more than over those who were safe in the old ibid. The Talmudists have taught - and their teaching, no doubt, is but the reflection of what was taught in the great rabbinical schools of Jerusalem before its ruin - that a man who had been guilty of many sins might, by repentance, raise himself to a higher degree of virtue than the perfectly righteous man who had never experienced his temptations. If this were so, well argues Professor Bruce, "surely it was reasonable to occupy one's self in endeavouring to get sinners to start on this noble career of self-elevation, and to rejoice when in any instance he had succeeded. But it is one thing to have correct theories, and another to put them into practice... So they found fault with One (Jesus) who not only held this view as an abstract doctrine, but acted on it, and sought to bring those who had strayed furthest from the paths of righteousness to repentance, believing that, though last, they might yet be first."
Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it?
Verse 8. - Either what woman having' ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? Another and very homely picture is painted in this parable. This time the chief figure is a woman, a dweller in a poor Syrian village, to whom the loss of a coin of small value out of her little store is a serious matter. In the story of the lost sheep the point of the parable turns upon the suffering and the sin of man, under the image of a lost sheep searched for and restored by the Divine pity. Here, in the second parable-story, the ruined soul is represented as a lost coin, and we learn from it that God positively misses each lost soul, and longs for its restoration to its true sphere and place in the heaven life and work for which it was created. In other words, in the first parable the lost soul is viewed from man's standpoint; in the second, from God's. If, then, a soul be missed, the result will be, not only missing for itself, but something lost for God.
And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost.
Verses 9, 10. - And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth. Again, as in the parable of the lost sheep, we find this longing for sympathy; again the finding of this sympathy in heavenly places, among heavenly beings, is especially recorded. There is a slight difference in the language of rejoicing here. In the first parable it was, "Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost;" here, "...for I have found the piece which I had lost." In the first it was the anguish of the sheep which was the central point of the story; in the second it was the distress of the woman who had lost something; hence this difference in the wording. "What grandeur belongs to the picture of this humble rejoicing which this poor woman celebrates with her neighbours, when it becomes the transparency through which we get a glimpse of God himself, rejoicing with his elect and his angels over the salvation of a single sinner!" (Godet).
Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.
And he said, A certain man had two sons:
Verse 11. - And he said, A certain man had two sons. It seems probable that this and the two preceding shorter parables were spoken by the Lord on the same occasion, towards the latter part of this slow solemn journeying to the holy city to keep his last Passover. The mention of the publicans and sinners in ver. 1 seems to point to some considerable city, or its immediate vicinity, as the place where these famous parables were spoken. This parable, as it is termed, of the prodigal sou completes the trilogy. Without it the Master's formal apologia for his life and work would be incomplete, and the rebuke of the Pharisaic selfishness and censoriousness would have been left unfinished. In the apologia much had still to be said concerning the limitless love and the boundless pity of God. In the rebuke the two first parables had shown the Pharisee party and the rulers of Israel how they ought to have acted: this third story shows them how they did act. But the Church of Christ - as each successive generation read this exquisite and true story - soon lost sight of all the temporal and national signification at first connected with it. The dweller in the cold and misty North feels that it belongs to him as it does to the Syrian, revelling in his almost perpetual summer, to whom it was first spoken. It is a story of the nineteenth century just as it was a story of the first. We may, with all reverence, think of the Divine Master, as he unfolded each successive scene which portrayed human sin and suffering, and heavenly pity and forgiveness, man's selfish pride and God's all-embracing love, passing into another and broader sphere than that bounded by the Arabian deserts to the south and the Syrian mountains to the north, forgetting for a moment the little Church of the Hebrews, and speaking to the great Church of the future - the Church of the world, to which, without doubt, this Catholic parable of the prodigal, in all its sublime beauty and exquisite pathos, with all its exhaustless wealth of comfort, belongs.
And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.
Verses 12, 13. - And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together. The subject of the story this time is not derived from humble life. The family pictured is evidently one belonging to the wealthy class. There was money to be distributed; there were estates to be cultivated; means existed to defray the cost of feasting on a large scale; mention, too, is made incidentally of costly clothing and even of gems. Like other of the Lord's parable-teachings, the framework of the story was most likely founded upon fact. The family of the father and the two sons no doubt had been personally known to the Galilaean Teacher. This imperious demand of the younger seems strange to us. Such a division, however, in the lifetime of the father was not uncommon in the East. So Abraham in his lifetime bestowed the main body of his possessions on Isaac, having previously allotted portions to his other sons. There was, however, no Jewish law which required any such bestowal of property in the parent's lifetime. It was a free gift on the part of the father. But to the young son it was a hapless boon.
"God answers sharp and sudden on some prayers;
And flings the thing we have asked in our face,
A gauntlet - with a gift in it."
(E. B. Browning.) And took his journey into a far country. The youth, who probably in the Master's experience had suggested this part of the story, after receiving his share of money, started with unformed purposes of pleasure, perhaps of trade. The man, who was a Jew, left his home for one of the great world's marts, such as Carthage or Alexandria, Antioch or Rome. And there wasted his substance with riotous living. This is an extreme case. Few probably of the publicans and sinners whose hearts the Lord touched so deeply, and who are examples of the great class in every age to whom his gospel appeals so lovingly, had sinned so deeply as the young man of the story. Indecent haste to be free from the orderly quiet home-life, ingratitude, utter forgetfulness of all duty, the wildest profligacy, - these were the sins of the prodigal. It has been well remarked that the line runs out widely to embrace such a profligate, that every sinner may be encouraged to return to God and live. There is a grave reticence in sparing all details of the wicked life - a veil which the elder son with pitiless hand would snatch away (ver. 30).
And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.
And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.
Verse 14. - And when he had spent all. True of many a soul in all times, but especially in that age of excessive luxury and splendour and of unbridled passions.
"On that hard Roman world, disgust
And secret loathing fell;
Deep weariness and sated lust
Made human life a hell."
(Matthew Arnold.) There arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. The "mighty famine" may be understood to represent difficult times. Wax or political convulsions, so common in those days, may have speedily brought about the ruin of many like the prodigal of our story, and his comparatively small fortune would quickly have been swallowed up. Selfish evil-living, excesses of various kinds, had gained him no real friends, but had left him to meet the ruin of his fortune with enfeebled powers, homeless and friendless; hence the depth of the degradation in which we speedily find him. Not an unusual figure in the great world-drama, this of the younger son - the man who had sacrificed everything for selfish pleasure, and soon found he had absolutely nothing left but suffering. Very touchingly the greatest, perhaps, of our English poets writes of this awful soul-famine. In his case fortune and rank still remained to him, but everything that can really make life precious and beautiful had been wasted.
"My days are in the yellow leaf;
The flowers and fruits of love are gone;
The worm, the anguish, and the grief,
Are mine alone.
"The fire that on my bosom preys
Is lone as some volcanic isle;
No torch is kindled at its blaze -
A funeral pile!"
And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
Verse 15. - And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country. "That citizen," says St. Bernard, quoted by Archbishop Trench, "I cannot understand as other than one of the malignant spirits, who in that they sin with an irremediable obstinacy, and have passed into a permanent disposition of malice and wickedness, are no longer guests and strangers, but citizens and abiders in the land of sin." This is a true picture of the state of such a lost soul, which in despair has yielded itself up to the evil one and his angels and their awful prompt-tugs and suggestions; but the heathen citizen is well represented by the ordinary sordid man of the world, who engages in any infamous calling, and in the carrying on of which he employs his poor degraded ruined brothers and sisters. To feed swine. What a shudder must have passed through the auditory when the Master reached this climax of the prodigal's degradation I For a young Israelite noble, delicately nurtured and trained in the worship of the chosen people, to be reduced to the position of a herdsman of those unclean creatures for which they entertained such a loathing and abhorrence that they would not even name them, but spoke of a pig as the other thing!
And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.
Verse 16. - And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. So low was this poor lost man reduced, that in his bitter hunger he even came to long for the coarse but nutritious bean with which the herd was fed. These swine were of some value when fattened for the market; but he, the swineherd, was valueless - he might starve. The husks in question were the long bean-shaped pods of the carob tree (Caratonia siliqua), commonly used for fattening swine in Syria and Egypt. They contain a proportion of sugar. The very poorest of the population occasionally use them as food.
And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
Verse 17. - And when he came to himself. This tardy repentance in the famous parable has been the occasion of many a sneer from the world. Even satiety, even soul-hunger, did not bring the prodigal to penitence; nothing but absolute bodily suffering, cruel hunger, drove him to take the step which in the end saved him. There is no doubt it would have been far more noble on the young man's part if, in the midst of his downhill career, he had suddenly paused, and, with a mighty and continued effort of self-control, had turned to purity, to duty, and to God. Certainly this had been hereto conduct - a term no one would think of applying to anything belonging to the life of the younger son of our story. But though not heroic, is not the conduct of the prodigal just what is of daily occurrence in common life? The world may sneer; but is not such a repentance, after all, a blessed thing? It is a poor mean way, some would tell us, of creeping into heaven; but is it not better to enter into God's city even thus, with bowed head, than not at all? Is it not better to consecrate a few months, or perhaps years, of a wasted life to God's service, to noble generous deeds, to brave attempts to undo past mischief and neglect, than to go sinning on to the bitter end? There is something intensely sorrowful in this consecrating to the Master the end of a sin-worn life; but there is what is infinitely worse. What a deep well, too, of comfort has the Church-taught teacher here to draw from in his weary life-experiences! How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! Among the bitternesses of his present degradation, not the least was the memory of his happy childhood and boyhood in his old home.
"For a sorrow's crown of sorrows
Is remembering happier things." The family of the prodigal, as we have already remarked, was certainly possessed of wealth, and was probably one of high rank. In the old home there was nothing wanting.
I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,
Verses 18, 19. - I will arise and go to my father... make me as one of thy hired servants. The repentance of the prodigal was real. It was no mere sentimental regret, no momentary flash of sorrow for a bad past. There was before him a long and weary journey to be undertaken, and he - brought up in luxury - had to face it without means. There was the shame of confession before dependents and relatives and friends, and, as the crown of all, there was the position of a servant to be filled in the home where once he had been a son, for that was all he hoped to gain even from his father's pitying love.
And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.
And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
Verse 20. - And he arose, and came to his father. And so he came safe home; sad, suffering, ragged, destitute, but still safe. But, in spite of this, the parable gives scant encouragement indeed to sin, poor hope indeed to wanderers from the right way, like the hero of our story; for we feel that, though he escaped, yet many were left behind in that sad country. We dimly see many other figures in the picture., The employer of the prodigal was a citizen, but only one of many citizens. The prodigal himself was a servant - one, though, of a great crowd of others; and of all these unhappy dwellers in that land of sin, we only read of one coming out. Not an encouraging picture at best to any soul purposing deliberately to adventure into that country, with the idea of enjoying the pleasant licence of sin for a season and there coming home again. Such a home-coming is, of course, possible - the beautiful story of Jesus tells us this; but, alas I how many stay behind! how few come out thence! But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. But although many who wander never escape from that sad country, it is not because they would be unwelcomed should they choose to return. The whole imagery of this part of the parable tells us how gladly the eternal Father welcomes the sorrowful penitent. The father does not wait for the poor wanderer, but, as though he had been watching for him, sights him afar off, and at once takes compassion, and even hastens to meet him, and all is forgiven.
And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.
Verse 21. - Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. Many, though not all, of the older authorities add here (apparently taking them from ver. 19) the words, "make me as one of thy hired (servants)." The selfsame words of store original resolution are repeated. They had been stamped deep into the sad heart which so intensely desired a return to the old quiet, pure home-life; but now in his father's presence he feels all is forgiven and forgotten, therefore he no longer asks to be made as one of the servants. He feels that great love will be satisfied with nothing less than restoring him, the erring one, to all the glories and happiness of the old life.
But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:
Verse 22. - But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. The older authorities add "quickly" after the words "bring forth." Everything is done by the father to assure the wanderer of full and entire forgiveness. Not only is a welcome given to the tired, ragged son, but he is invested at once, with all speed, with the insignia of his old rank as one of the house. But it is observable not a word is spoken of reply to the confession; in grave and solemn silence the story of the guilty past is received. Nothing can excuse it. He forgives, but forgives in silence.
And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:
Verses 23, 24. - And bring hither the fatted calf. There was a custom in the large Palestinian farms that always a calf should be fattening ready for festal occasions. And let us eat... And they began to be merry. Who are intended by these plurals, us and they? We must not forget that the parable-story under the mortal imagery is telling of heavenly as well as of earthly things. The sharers in their joy over the lost, the servants of the prodigal's father on earth, are doubtless the angels of whom we hear (vers. 7, 10), in the two former parables of the lost sheep and of the lost drachma, as rejoicing over the recovery of a lost soul.
For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.
Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing.
Verse 25. - Now his elder son was in the field. The broad universal interest of the parable here ceases. Whereas the story of the sin and the punishment, the repentance and the restoration, of the prodigal belongs to the Church of the wide world, and has its special message of warning and comfort for thousands and thousands of world. workers in every age, this division of the story, which tells of the sour discontent of the prodigal's elder brother, was spoken especially to the Pharisees and rulers of the Jews, who were bitterly incensed with Jesus being the Friend of publicans and sinners. They could not bear the thought of sharing the joys of the world to come with men whom they had despised as hopeless sinners here. This second chapter of the great parable has its practical lessons for every day common life; but its chief interest lay in the striking picture which it drew of that powerful class to whom the teaching of Jesus, in its broad and massive character, was utterly repulsive. Now, while the events just related were taking place, and the lost younger son was being received again into his father's heart and home, the elder, a hard and selfish man, stern, and yet careful of his duties as far as his narrow mind grasped them, was in the field at his work. The rejoicing in the house over the prodigal's return evidently took him by surprise. If he ever thought of that poor wandering brother of his at all, he pictured him to himself as a hopelessly lost and ruined soul. The Pharisees and rulers could not fail at once to catch the drift of the Master's parable. They too, when the Lord came and gathered in that great harvest of sinners, those firstfruits of his mighty work - they too were "in the field" at work with their tithings and observances, making hedge after hedge round the old sacred Hebrew Law, uselessly fretting their lives away in a dull round of meaningless ritual observances. They - the Pharisee party - when they became aware of the great crowds of men, whom they looked on as lost sinners, listening to the new famous Teacher, who was showing them how men who had lived their lives too could win eternal life - they, the Pharisees, flamed out with bitter wrath against the bold and daring Preacher of glad tidings to such a worthless crew. In the vivid parable-story these indignant Pharisees and rulers saw themselves clearly imaged.
And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant.
And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.
And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him.
Verse 28. - Therefore came his father out, and entreated him. The disapprobation of Jesus for Pharisee opinions was very marked, yet here and elsewhere his treatment of them, with a few exceptional cases, was generally very gentle and loving. There was something in their excessive devotion to the letter of the Divine Law, to the holy temple, to the proud traditions of their race, that was admirable. It was a love to God, but a love all marred and blurred. It was a patriotism, but a patriotism utterly mistaken. The elder brother here was a representative of the great and famous sect, both in its fair and repulsive aspect, in its moral severity and correctness, in its harshness and exclusive pride. The father condescended to entreat this angry elder son; and Jesus longed to win these proud mistaken Pharisees.
And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:
Verses 29-32. - Lo, these many years do I serve thee. Bengel quaintly comments here, "Serous erat." This was the true nature of this later Jewish service of the Eternal. To them the eternal God was simply a Master. They were slaves who had a hard and difficult task to perform, and for which they looked for a definite payment. Neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment. We have here reproduced the spirit, almost the very words, of the well-known answer of the young man in the gospel story, who was no doubt a promising scion of the Pharisee party: "All these things have I kept from my youth up." The same thought was in the mind, too, of him who thus prayed in the temple: "God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are," etc. (Luke 18:11, 12). Yet thou never gavest me a kid... All that I have is thine. Thy brother has the shoes, the ring, the robe, the banquet; thou the inheritance, for all that I have is thine. Why grudge to thy brother an hour of the gladness which has been thine these many years? As soon as this thy son was come,... For this thy brother was dead. The angry elder son will not even acknowledge the prodigal as his brother; with bitter scorn and some disrespect he speaks of him to his father as "thy son." The father throughout the scene is never incensed. He pleads rather than reproaches, and to this insolence he simply retorts, "Thy brother was dead to us, but now - It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad." What was the end of this strange scene? The last words, breathing forgiveness and joy, leave a sweet sense of hope upon the reader that all would yet be well in that divided household, and that the brothers, friends again, would clasp hands before the loving father's eyes. But when Jesus told the parable to the crowds, the story was not yet played out. It depended on the Pharisees and rulers how the scene was to end. What happened at Jerusalem a few weeks later, when the Passion-drama was acted, and some forty years later, when the city was sacked, tells us something of what subsequently happened to the elder son of the Lord's parable. But the end has yet to come. We shall yet see the brothers, Jew and Gentile, clasp hands in loving friendship before the father, when the long-lost elder son comes home. There will be joy then indeed in the presence of the angels of God.
But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.
And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.
It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.