The only perfect response in each of the three parables in Luke 15 is God's response. He seeks to save the ignorant and helpless. He seeks to find an carelessly lost inheritance. He affirms the right of man to choose. He rejoices in the results of shepherd, the woman and the return of his son.
Neither the younger or older son respond perfectly to the situations they are confronted by. Only when the youngest son's life style drops below that of the father's servants does he decide to return home.
His repentance was perfect, though.
The older son is obedient and hard working. In fact he is working at earning and preserving his inheritance. Nothing in his life would have taught him to respond as the father did. Only a father can understand the joy of a child returned to him. The oldest son should have joined in the celebration but could not. His obediance was without fault.
Today our churches don't have the excuse of not knowing the true nature of God. Today we have the presence of the Holy Spirt, and still many believers cannot rejoice at the salvation of repentant sinners. They too have led lives of hard work and obedience.
We seek a simple straight-forward understanding of things; even in God. We seek to hold a complete understanding of God in three short stories; It isn't meant to be. Use these stories to understand God's love and his desire for a relationship with each one of us.
Thesis topic: The evolution of the meaning of the prodigal son; How context can change the classic understanding of this story. Or how different cultures relate to this story;