Sorry I’ve been absent from here for quite a while, but I’m finally back to take this post out of drafts and publish it, which was always my intention!
If you read The Prodigal Son parts one and two, thank you – and I hope it all made sense. I just wanted to add a final few thoughts from this multi-layered parable!
Our pastor recently made a fairly random comment whilst preaching about something else. He said, “What if the prodigal son had been met by his brother, instead of his father…?” Woah! That’s the kind of comment that gets me thinking!
The older brother had never developed a close relationship with his father or his brother. He was focused on what he could do to build his inheritance. He had a works based mentality. He was angry at his brother for taking his share of the estate (and no doubt jealous that he was out living his life – he felt like a martyr!) When he heard his brother had returned home penniless, he was angry with his father for welcoming him with open arms and showing him favour he didn’t deserve!
As the father pleaded with him to join in the celebration he refused, saying, “Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends.” [Luke 15:29] He had served the father and kept his commands, but out of duty – he was only thinking of building the family business for himself. He wanted to celebrate with his friends and did not desire to spend time with his father, or build a close relationship with him. He did not understand his father’s heart of love for both his sons and his longing to have both at his side.
When we believe on Jesus – who he is and what he’s done for us, we are saved by grace, through faith. (Eph 2:8) The debt for our sins was paid in full at the cross and there is no further punishment that can be meted out to us because we have been pronounced “Not guilty!” for eternity. At that very moment, we too receive the Father’s undeserved favour.
The parable could also demonstrate the positions of both Jews and Christians and their perspective perhaps? Both see God as Father. The Jews represent the older brother, working and keeping the law, thus hoping they do enough to inherit the kingdom. Christians have seen the love of the Father through Jesus, the Messiah that the Jews failed to recognise, and they rejoice in their relationship with him knowing that they are loved unconditionally.
If you were to put yourself into the parable, which brother would you be? Does your honest response give you pause for thought…? Are you hedging your bets and working for your inheritance or simply trusting in the finished work of Jesus, grateful and overjoyed to be wrapped in the Father’s loving arms.