Which Son is the Lost Son?

Have you heard the Parable of the Prodigal Son?

A father has two sons.  The younger son demands his inheritance before his father passes away, squanders it and then comes home looking for mercy.  The father welcomes his son home and throws a party.  But the older son refuses to participate.

Which son is truly lost?

At the end of the story, the younger son is in the father's house, enjoying the party.  The older son is out in the field, angry enough to die. And we learn something about each of them.

The younger son understands the father's mercy.  He manipulates and takes advantage, first in the shake-down, then in the return.  But he receives the father's kindness.

The older son doesn't seem to understand the father.  He acts surprised by the father's mercy to the younger son.  He feels like he's slaved away all these years, trying to please his father, without success.  And when the father tries to bring him into the party, he refuses.

Which son is truly lost?

I guess you can be lost, just out in the field.  You can be lost even after years of doing the father's work.  You can be lost and well-behaved.  You can be lost, even as you talk with the father about "the lost."

How do you know if you're lost or not?

"The Return of the Prodigal Son" by Rembrandt courtesy of WikiPaintings

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