While Jesus was in the company of the hated publicans (tax collectors) and sinners teaching them, the proud, boastful and self-righteous Pharisees and scribes complained about Him eating with sinners.
Jesus seized upon the opportunity and presented three parables to them which depicted the love that God has for His people.
Each subject in these parables was lost and represented a different kind of attitude. The sheep probably knew that he was lost, but did not know the way back. Some are like the coin. They are lost and don’t know it and don’t care. The son knew that he was lost and decided to return home.
God is seeking to save all who are lost. He is depicted by the shepherd, woman and father. Each person expressed the same emotions, which God has for the lost. They were distressed because of their loss and they were diligent in their search. There is much rejoicing by God and the other residents of heaven when a lost soul is found.
The prodigal (wasteful) son had an older brother, who was angry and resentful that his father had welcomed his lost brother home. This older brother represented the Pharisees and their attitudes toward those who were lost.