Ultimately, what do we learn from this whole parable? Mercy. Mercy? Although the word is never once stated the Father is ultimately showing us how loving and merciful He is. Come on, He opened his arms and welcomed his son back, no questions asked. He showed a kind of love to the son that was completely and totally self-sacrificial. This is the kind of love that we are asked to give and show on a daily basis!
You better believe that the jolly green giant of jealousy was right there in that moment when he hears the music and dancing. I know that my jaw would have dropped and I would be stomping around the house like a mad woman. Think about it though, he has been consistently working for the Lord and not faltering in his faith in the Father. He knows that this is where he will always find what he needs.
So the son goes off into a distant land, away from his father. Many of us have a conversion story. Many can relate it to being in a dark spot, away from God in search of who they are. Did you catch that though? A dark spot away from God. This is similar to the son, in both situations it is in a place away from God.
How would we describe our relationship with God? Can we say that we seek Him every day with a steady, earnest, and energetic effort? Because that's how the woman in the parable seeks the lost coin -- with diligence. Not only does God do this with us, but we are called to do it with Him as well. After all, a relationship is a two-way street.
We easily identify the shepherd as a Christ figure in the parable of the lost sheep, and it's not just because Jesus is telling the story. He refers to himself as the Good Shepherd in John 10:14-16, and we find similar imagery throughout the entire Bible. It's also easy to picture him as the shepherd because we often find ourselves lost and need to find our way back to God. However, as we reflect further on this parable, it can also be fruitful to place ourselves in the role of the shepherd.