One of the most familiar parables of Jesus has been known for centuries as, The Prodigal Son (Luke 15). The word prodigal is an apt description of the Younger Son in the story, or at least for most of the time he is away from home. Prodigal means to be reckless and wasteful and that is exactly what the Younger Son does; he squandered his property in dissolute living.
In recent years, preachers have tried to rename the parable, The Loving Father. The new title brings the focus to the nature of the father in the story. It is easy to see that the father in the parable shows God’s loving and forgiving nature, one who rejoices when the lost returns. Its okay to shift the focus to the father, not only because it show’s God’s nature but also it shows how God expects God’s people to be: loving; forgiving and; joyful.
However, there is a third character in the story. The Older Son is jealous at the generous, perhaps even reckless and wasteful love the Father heaps on the Younger Son. The Father is pleased with both his Sons, one who has returned to the fold and one who was always faithful. Sadly, we are never told if the Older Son enters the party for his brother or remains in-the-outs (by choice).
I like the title The Prodigal Son, because he is each one of us and the message is clear, that God loves us no matter what bad choices we’ve made in the past. God rejoices when we return and heaps generous portions of love on us. Some might even say that God’s love overflows, and is reckless and wasteful. If so, the only name change appropriate for the parable is, The Prodigal Father.