In Luke 15, we read three parables that the Lord Jesus Christ told: the parable of the hundred sheep, the parable of the ten pieces of silver, and the parable of the prodigal son. All three were told as part of a lesson he was teaching. There is a progression in the endings. Let us first look at how each parable ends.
The Parable of the Hundred Sheep
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. Luke 15:7
The Parable of the Ten Pieces of Silver
Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth. Luke 15:10
The Parable of the Prodigal Son
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. Luke 15:31-32
First, notice there is a progression from 100 to 10 to 2. Also, notice the following progression: in the first, the sinner who repents and the just which don’t need repentance; in the second, only the sinner who repents; in the third, there really isn’t an ending. Jesus did not give an ending to the parable of the prodigal son. He left it open.
The progression of the endings of these three parables draws the focus of the self-righteous Pharisees to their need of repentance. First, Jesus gives a larger group and mentions there are sinners and just people. Then, he narrows the focus to a smaller group, and in the ending, only mentions the sinner who repents. And in the third, Jesus doesn’t finish the story. The progression narrows the focus from 100 to 10 to 2, from sinners and just to only sinners to letting the Pharisees decide which they are. He is giving the Pharisees – those who think they are just and don’t need to repent – an opportunity to repent. He is giving them a call to repentance. Even though the older brother, who the Lord uses to represent the Pharisees, is always working for his father, his heart is far from the father. He demonstrates this by complaining how his father never gave him anything that he could take and celebrate with his friends. He doesn’t want to celebrate with his father. He wants to go off and do his own thing. Just like this older brother, the Pharisees’ hearts are far from God. They need to repent. Their story has not ended.
What is the ending of your story? God has called all men everywhere to repent and have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. God demands perfection and your heart. Have you been perfect? Compare your life to God’s standard in the Ten Commandments. Does God have your heart? Because you could not be perfect, Jesus lived a perfect life and suffered for your sins. He faced God’s wrath for your sins. He died, was buried, and rose again, triumphing over death. He is coming again to take those that are his to life everlasting. He will send those who are not his to eternal torments.
What is your ending? Repent, and believe the gospel.