A final thought …
This parable is the last of three parables that Jesus tells in response to the criticism of the Pharisees of him spending time with sinners.
In the first parable, a shepherd goes looking for a lost sheep and when he finds it, he calls his friends to celebrate with him. In the second parable, a woman looks for a lost coin and when she finds it, she calls her neigbours around to celebrate with her.
In the final parable, the younger son is lost but no one goes looking for him. This would have surprised the listeners as they would have been expecting someone to go. Who was supposed to go? The father? OR maybe the older brother? Cain (one of the first two brother stories in the Bible) had to learn that he was his 'brother's keeper'. This younger brother got a Pharisee for an older brother rather than a true older brother. Jesus was acting as the true older brother, spending time with younger brother types – going after them, loving and accepting them, and trying to help them to come to their senses and return to the father's house.
Will we be a true older brother, like Jesus, to the younger brothers of this world?
All three parables end with a feast – a party, a celebration. We all long to come 'home'. The gospel is 'good news' – for younger brothers and older brothers. We have a heavenly Father who loves us so much that he sent his only son to pay the price for our forgiveness and salvation. That's really good news … and worth spreading!