"And He spoke many things to
them in parables."
Read Luke 15:11-32. The man in this parable represented God, the older son the Jewish religious leaders, and the younger son the Jews who were careless of their spiritual privileges. Many of these careless Jews repented (were sorry for) their sins and were baptized by John.
When the prodigal son saw the error of his ways, after having recklessly spent all of his inheritance, he wished to return to his fathers home as a servant. The father not only welcomed him and forgave him but gave a great feast in his honor.
The proud older brother (who represented the scribes, Pharisees, and doctors of the Law) did not want to share his fathers wealth and love. However, the father was just and forgiving, and extremely happy to have his second son home again.
These are the gifts the father gave to his prodigal son: a beautiful robe (picturing the robe of Christs righteousness), an expensive ring (showing Gods influence and power and favor), shoes (sandals of peace), and a fattened calf (as in the Tabernacle sacrifices, showing forgiveness.)
Those people represented by the older brother were outwardly righteous in following the Law but were actually self-righteous, and full of pride and jealousy.
The same lesson is found in another interesting parable: Luke 16:19-31. The Jewish nation was represented by Dives, the rich man. His table was loaded with rich, elegant foods, representing the rich promises of God. The Jews were the only ones to have these promises at that time.
Lazarus, the poor beggar, who wanted only to eat of the crumbs that fell from the rich mans table, represented the Gentile nations. The Gentiles were very poor as to spiritual promises. But the rich man died and the great blessings went to the Gentile nations for Gods favor was no longer for the Jews only! They (the Gentiles) could now be invited to become part of the church class. Lazarus also died, picturing the end of his condition in Gods disfavor.
There are many more pictures in this parable, and in the other parables. Remember, they are not true stories, but only stories made up to show lessons that Jesus wanted his disciples to learn.
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