A Father and Two Prodigal Sons - Part II
“And he spake this parable unto them, saying…”
“And he said, A certain man had two sons.”
—Luke 15:3, 11
The father tells everyone, “The son who was lost has been found and is home.” The father wants it known far and wide that his lost son has come home, and he is fully welcomed and treated as honored family.
In Hosea 14:4, God said of Israel, “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him.”
Isaiah 1:18 reads, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow.”
Ephesians 2:4 reads, “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us.”
Romans 5:8 says, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
I Peter 5:5 says, “God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.”
Every backslider and every wayward son or daughter should carefully study Hebrews 4:16, which says, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
Our heavenly Father’s throne is one of mercy and grace, not punishment and suffering.
Finally, Paul says in Colossians 1:14, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.”
The younger prodigal son experienced grace, mercy, and forgiveness because of his father’s great love.
John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world.” Our heavenly Father loves His sheep—even lost sheep.
There is a fourth important truth in this parable. The Christian life should not be lived in bondage to legalism and the law.
The elder son had no compassion for his brother. Although the older son remained faithful to the task of helping his dad—running the farm and overseeing the work—he did not possess the heart of the father. He had no compassion for his brother. The father, upon hearing that his oldest son had refused to join the celebration leaves the celebration and goes to the field to reason with him.
The older son improperly reminds his father, “But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots” (Luke 15:30). He did not refer to him as his brother; he said, “thy son.” He did not acknowledge him as his brother. It seems to me that he had written him off. The elder brother did not ever want to see his brother again. His sins were too great. He was ashamed of him.
The older brother shows anger and refuses to attend the celebration. The father clarifies reality and says, “Son, thou are ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost. and is found.”
The loving, forgiving father was saying, “Get perspective. He is your brother. Love him. He was lost and is found.”
The older son was living in law and not in grace. He did not have any compassion for his brother. He was into law: “Eye for eye, tooth for tooth” (Lev. 24:20).
In II Corinthians 5:18, Paul wrote, “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.”
The elder brother had no desire for the younger son to come home and be restored and reconciled. The church must constantly show forth the ministry of reconciliation.
So many legalistic church leaders and church members live in law and not grace.
Did not Paul admonish the church in Galatians 6:1: “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness”? This word restore means “to repair, mend, completely make perfect again.” Yes, there should be discipline and guidelines to assist in the process of restoration, but let’s not forget, our ministry to the fallen and broken does not conclude until they are fully restored and reconciled.
Friend, there is no record in this story that the elder brother repented for his lack of compassion and love for his fallen brother. In reality, the elder brother is the prodigal that refused to demonstrate the father’s heart to a brother in need. So many church leaders respond this way to the broken and wounded of society.
Luke 4:18 quotes Christ when He read in the synagogue, “Because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.”
Dear church leaders, this is the ministry of the church.
Do we remember the parable of the Good Samaritan? The religious leaders—the priest and Levite—refused to help the man in the ditch who was wounded and bleeding on the Jericho Road. But the Good Samaritan stopped his journey and crawled down into the ditch, which was a deep ravine. When visiting Israel, our tour guide showed us the ditch. It was a ravine about fifty feet deep on the side of the road. The Good Samaritan cleansed and bandaged the man’s wounds, took him to a house of healing, and paid the expenses for his food and recovery. Wow, what mercy and grace!
I ask you, dear friend, are you living in law or grace? Someone once wrote: “Law curses; grace redeems. Law kills; grace gives life. Law shuts every mouth; grace opens every mouth to praise Him. Law condemns; grace justifies. Law puts you on probation; grace sets you free. Law declares, ‘Stone the adulteress’; grace says, ‘Neither do I condemn thee, go and sin no more.’ Under law, sheep die and are sacrificed for the shepherd; under grace, the Shepherd dies for the sheep.”
Let’s all strive to be like the father in this story and not like the young prodigal son or the elder prodigal son. The younger son received forgiveness and great grace. The elder brother showed no sign of repentance and could not enjoy the time of celebration. It was his great loss.
I conclude this article series by quoting Christ in Luke 15:10: “Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.”
If angels are going to feel joy in heaven, I do declare, let the church also be overwhelmed with great joy as sinners repent and come home.