Which Son are You?

Posted: November 1, 2012 in The Prodigal
Tags: , , ,

For the last 2 months I have been constantly thinking of the parable of the prodigal son. I’ve actually tried to write on this topic several times before but didn’t feel like I had a firm grasp on what the Holy Spirit was giving me at the time. I understand the princeable of the the parable as it is often taught, but I really love to peel back layer after layer getting as much truth as I can out of the Bible.

The following will be a two parts of a three part series written originally by Phil Drysdale with some added by yours truly. You can find the original articles here, here and here.

It fascinates me that the parable of the prodigal son had two sons in it. We often focus so much on the son that turned his back on the father because that is the analogy for the one that is “lost”. However this parable was never about unbelievers… there were no unbelievers that Jesus was speaking to. He was speaking to the Jews, who at this time were the people of God. We forget that it was Paul who preached to unbelievers!
I think in light of this we should really be looking at the parable in a more introspective manner rather than at unbelievers outside the church (although I do agree the underlying principles of God’s acceptance etc are very applicable).

There are two sons in the story who aren’t connected to their father. They don’t seem to know what they have. One son is not finding any value in his relationship with the father and is definitely not enjoying himself, so he asks to be cut off from the father and pursues pleasure and entertainment in the world. The other son however, seems to be equally disconnected from the father and is working hard to gain his attention in the hopes that he might be noticed.

What can we learn from each brother?

The younger brother

There are many people in the church today who are like the first son, they are disillusioned, the church promised the world and they aren’t interested… they try and try to please God to gain His favour and attention, to grow to be more and more holy and they fail miserably because they are doing it based on their own efforts to keep the law. This leads them to leave and to pursue pleasure and acceptance in the world – this might not be a literal leaving, many of these people are in the church, you and I know them… you and I sometimes are them. Our prayer is that at some point, like this son, they realize that their own efforts to fill the void are useless and they need to return to God. Hopefully this time round they have a revelation of who they are, because this type of Christian is most commonly created by churches that teach law, works and effort – any church that tells you that you need to please God or that God will be unhappy with you if you fail to keep his law will be producing these types of Christians.

The older brother

The older brother is fascinating though, it is a different result caused by the same type of preaching. This brother continues to strive and work hard and doesn’t give up! There is no relationship created with God here, it only drives a wedge further between you and God when you try to work for His affection (1 Cor 15:56, Gal 5:4). This son is the saddest thing to see, as a son all along he doesn’t know it and worst still falls into resentment and betterment when other people allow grace to embrace them. When his brother comes back and accepts the grace of his father this son is filled with rage because he “deserves” more, not knowing that his righteousness is like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).

This is a dangerous breed of Christian, not only do they not accept grace for themselves but worst still they try to tear down those who do! They are like the Jews who became Christians and would go to the gentiles trying to convince them to follow the laws of the Old Testament that they might be right before God. Paul is regularly rebuking these Christians.

How it affects me

I often find a works mindset creeping in and effecting me in the ways of both the parable’s sons from time to time. This parable helps sober me and ask God to renew my mind to the reality that I am a son, it was nothing of my own doing and I deserve it just as much as everyone else… which is not at all 🙂 (Thank you Jesus!)

My prayer is that we can renew our minds to the reality of Christ in us, that we realize our sonship and become a third son in the church. One who believes in what Christ did for us on the cross, not because we deserved it or loved Him enough, but because He is good and loved us first. Believing too that He loved the guy we don’t really like and think deserves it less than us too!

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