This parable is nearly always called, "The Parable of the Prodigal Son," but not by Jesus. When he begins the story, he says, "A man had two sons" (v.11); the story is a comparison and contrast of both brothers. We have sentimentalized this parable because of our almost complete concentration on the middle of the story regarding the younger brother. We imagine that the hearers' eyes welled with tears as they heard how God will always love and welcome us, no matter what we've done. But if we truly come to understand why Jesus told this parable and what he meant, we will come to see that the listeners were actually thunderstruck, offended, and furious....

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