Prodigal Son P2: The Steadfast Son

 

The Prodigal Son p2

Jesus was about to expose the hearts of the Sanhedrin and others who cared more about their own spiritual well-being rather than others. Let us continue from where we left off from part one: After the younger son went inside with his father, the older son was coming in from his duties in the field.

The Hard Hearted Cannot Forgive

25 “Now his older son was in the field. As he came close to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked, ‘What’s going on?’ 27 The servant told him, ‘Your brother has come back, and your father has slaughtered the calf that was fattened up, because he has gotten him back safe and sound.’ 28 But the older son became angry and refused to go inside.

The brother who went off and tried life has come home which makes the father very happy. I am guessing it had been quite a while so the elder more obedient son was fully set in his ways and had taken on some of the younger son’s tasks. I would probably be happy to see him return so he can resume his duties but that is not the point here. The elder son is disappointed because there was never a celebration in his honor. But why would there be. He has done exactly as he should have, or so he thinks. His refusal to accept and be happy that the younger is similar to the distaste certain faithful people have when a person who was a known sinner returns in repentance. It is hard to accept someone back when your heart is hard and does not truly remember or understand God’s Love, Compassion, and Forgiveness.

“So his father came out and pleaded with him. 29 ‘Look,’ the son answered, ‘I have worked for you all these years, and I have never disobeyed your orders. But you have never even given me a young goat, so that I could celebrate with my friends. 30 Yet this son of yours comes, who squandered your property with prostitutes, and for him you slaughter the fattened calf!’ 31 ‘Son, you are always with me,’ said the father, ‘and everything I have is yours. 32 We had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead but has come back to life — he was lost but has been found.’”

So, is the “obedient son” really obedient? He is the faithful son or so we are led to believe at first. This man stayed by his father’s side all those years working for the father in preparation for the day when he would receive the blessings that are rightly his. The eldest son represents the self-righteous who hear but do not really understand.

Anyone who claims to be in this light while hating his brother is still in the dark. The person who keeps loving his brother remains in the light, and there is nothing in him that could make him trip. But the person who hates his brother is in the dark — yes, he is walking in the dark, and he doesn’t know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. 1 John 2:9-11

Forgiven?

The Pharisees of the day paid lip service to God and the people but secretly sinned and thought that their outward appearance and works guaranteed a spot at the heavenly banquet. These are the ones who let man’s law and traditions interfere with the truth even though they thought they were doing what God asked of them. Forward to modern times, he represents zealous believer who cannot accept the penitent sinner as brother in Christ. But God has compassion on them as the father showed compassion on his elder son. If we believe and are unable to love our neighbor as ourselves then we are being like the brother who did not accept the younger. In fact he saw the younger brother as a threat and would not forgive. He chose suffering and isolation over restoration and reconciliation.

For if you forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will not forgive yours. Matthew 6:14-15

He allowed anger to take root in his heart to the point that he was unable to forgive or show compassion towards his brother, and for that matter the perceived sin of his father against him.

But for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.” Genesis 4:5-7

Let’s recap for a moment what we learned here:
1. In order to be accepted into the house, we must accept the poor sinner who desires His mercy.
2. Do not be hard hearted towards a new believer but welcoming. Do not shut a door
3. God’s Love is the same for all believers so when a new believer comes to the fold, rejoice do not be jealous of his/her acceptance no matter the past if the person is known to you.
4. Suffering and isolation keeps you away from the joys of heaven. Being in a relationship with other believers, sharing stories of God’s Grace, Love, and Mercy with believers and the lost, and welcoming those who come home is what God desires of us.

 

The Prodigal Son P1: The Wayward Son

The Prodigal Son Pt 1The Prodigal Son is one of the more popular of the Parables of Jesus because it is easily relatable. When Jesus spoke this one, He was surrounded by the lost and forgotten who sought a home, the upright righteous who were too zealous to see their own broken heart, and those who knew what being lost was like but were found and saw the Way to God through Jesus. All three of those types are represented in this Parable, The son, the son, and the first son again. What if I told you this is a story of the graciousness of the father overshadowing the sinfulness of the son, as it is the memory of the father’s goodness that brings the prodigal son to repentance? Let’s see the first part:

Again Jesus said, “A man had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that will be mine.’ So the father divided the property between them. As soon as he could convert his share into cash, the younger son left home and went off to a distant country, where he squandered his money in reckless living. But after he had spent it all, a severe famine arose throughout that country, and he began to feel the pinch. Luke 15:11-14

The younger son reminds us of the person who wants to live life at the expense of being disowned by the family. Do you remember when you said to your father or mother that you wanted to live your own life in your own way? Were you like the Prodigal Son spoken here who ignored the teachings of when you were young of the right way to life and explored all other possibilities?

This is a picture of someone choosing to go his own way and away from God. God gave the Hebrews a choice before Joshua took over for Moses saying, “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19).

We all possess this foolish ambition to be independent, which is at the root of the sinner persisting in their sin, it is Human Nature. Due to this sin we suffer and live apart from God. Those who live without trusting God are in a state of discontent. Luke 12:15 says, “Be careful to guard against all forms of greed, because even if someone is rich, his life does not consist in what he owns.” This son learned the hard way that covetousness leads to a life of dissatisfaction and disappointment. He also learned that the most valuable things in life are the things you cannot buy, nor replace. The son left home and lived life the way he wanted to, buying wants and desires instead of means to survive. So what does this young man do?

“So he went and attached himself to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the carob pods the pigs were eating, but no one gave him any. Luke 15:15-16

prodigal son with pigsIn his loss of funds, he also lost his will to survive so he takes the most detestable job of feeding pigs. We all know the saying, “Desperate times lead to desperate measures”, without God we lose so much direction that we will do anything to continue living. For the son, it caused further rejection because of his life choice. When people are no longer interested in being near you because your usefulness has ended, they throw you to the pigs and forget about you.

“At last he came to his senses and said, ‘Any number of my father’s hired workers have food to spare; and here I am, starving to death! I’m going to get up and go back to my father and say to him, “Father, I have sinned against Heaven and against you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired workers.”’ So he got up and started back to his father. Luke 15:17-20

The “ah ha” moment has arrived. In pain and darkness one remembers the ease of life when someone watched over you and you had everything you needed. You reflect on the past and seek relief. When you can recognize the condition of the heart and desire a return to peace and tranquility, it is possible. This is reflective of the sinner when he/she discovers the destitute condition of their life because of sin. It is a realization that apart from God there is no hope. This is when a repentant sinner “comes to his senses” and longs to return to the state of fellowship with God.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity. He ran and threw his arms around him and kissed him warmly. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against Heaven and against you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son — ’ but his father said to his slaves, ‘Quick, bring out a robe, the best one, and put it on him; and put a ring on his finger and shoes on his feet; and bring the calf that has been fattened up, and kill it. Let’s eat and have a celebration! For this son of mine was dead, but now he’s alive again! He was lost, but now he has been found!’ And they began celebrating. Luke 15:20-24

There is hope in returning home. The son that was lost realized this and prepared his heart to repent. He shocked when his father welcomes him home as if he was a newborn child. God is like that with us. His desire is for an intimate connection with His creation. The son was returned to his rightful place in the family. God renews our spirit and clothes us in His light.

Closer examination of the text reveals an ancient tradition of servanthood in order to repay a debt. He was willing to give up his rights as his father’s son in order to be forgiven. He now understood humility and was truly repentant of his actions against his family. How so the same the repentant sinner who believes in Jesus? The son understood, he was no longer in the good graces of the father to receive the blessings possible and could offer nothing in return for his mercy but his repentant servanthood. He was ready to fall at his father’s feet begging for mercy and forgiveness. This is exactly what turning back to God is all about. We have given up this life of slavery to sin, slavery to the ways of man, and becoming a slave to righteousness. This slavery has no chains as it is freedom from death and damnation to live in the light of God.

This son was lost but returned after having been beaten by the world. At our lowest point, God is there to pick us back up. Jesus carries us through our tribulation and brings us home. All we have to do is repent, return to the arms of Jesus, and follow Him. Have you been lost and come back home? Scary times but the joy of the loving arms is sweet relief.