The deepest hunger of the human heart is unconditional love. We have a deep hunger to be loved unconditionally.
“Will people still love us if they see our brokenness and how wounded we are?”
The story of the prodigal son reminds us who God is. Sometimes we have the mentality that we are slaves and God is a task master. Jesus is revealing who the Father really is, a father who loves us unconditionally. We want to have a personal experience with that unconditional love.
For example, you can know about Chick-fil-A. But, it is not the same thing as actually trying their food. Likewise, knowing about Jesus is not the same as having a personal encounter with him.