The story of the prodigal son is one of the most well known parables of Jesus. It contains a rich description of repentance and forgiveness in such a short space. Literature and art continues to draw on this parable for inspiration. I have found myself at times identifying with each of the three main characters, the father, the prodigal, and the elder son. But this week I was struck particularly by the elder son’s part of the story. The lectionary gospel reading actually includes the first couple of verses from Luke 15. And there we discover the setting for the telling of the prodigal son parable. We learn that Jesus is spending time with “tax collectors and sinners.” He is associating with the wrong kind of people, and the pharisees and scribes start questioning Jesus on a personal level. This is a standard tactic we all should recognize, when you can’t counter someone’s arguments just attack them personally. That’s the boat the pharisees and scribes have jumped into. So Jesus tells this story about the prodigal, and we are meant to see that God offers mercy to sinners. And the pharisees are meant to recognize that they are headed in the wrong direction with blinders on if they don’t see that God offers mercy to the lost and celebrates at their transformation from death to life. They are like the elder son who is complaining from a place of abundance. “Everything I have is yours,” the father says.Who are the scribes and pharisees of our day? We should always be wary of finding ourselves in their shoes. We have been justified by grace we do not deserve. We have been covered by an abundance of mercy. We should rejoice at each one that finds transformation from death to life in following Jesus, and not spend our time complaining that this or that precludes someone from learning from Jesus.