Parable of the Lost Son(s)

Posted: July 23, 2017 in Luke, Uncategorized

Luke 15:11-32, “Parable of the Lost Son(s)”

It is one of the most famous parables of Jesus, and it has inspired countless works of art and other symbols of devotion.  One of which is Rembrandt’s masterpiece, “Return of the Prodigal Son,” which hangs in the Hermitage museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.  When viewed in person, the painting truly shows the pathos of the moment: the grief of the younger son, and the overwhelming compassion of the father.  Even for those of us who know little about art (myself included!), it is easy to lose yourself in the work, and hear the words of Jesus in your mind as you study the painting.

What is it about this parable that is so captivating?  Perhaps it’s because we cannot help but see ourselves in it.  Maybe we are like the younger son – one who wasted much, and feel as if we have no right to ever approach God.  Maybe we are like the older son, hardhearted & frustrated by others who seemingly take advantage of a free gift of grace.  Whatever our background, it is perhaps impossible not to be overwhelmed and even a bit confused by the love of the father.  How can someone so good love someone so lost?  How can someone forgive others so freely and so readily?  And perhaps most importantly: how can we receive that kind of love & forgiveness?

I believe that Jesus describes the love of the father in a way to purposefully overwhelm us.  He wants us to be blown away with this kind of love and forgiveness.  Why?  Because it’s real.  The sooner we realize the reality of the availability of God’s grace, the sooner we will seek it.  The more we are overwhelmed by His love & grace, the more we will share in it.  After all, the grace that we have received from God is the same grace that anyone can receive from Him.  And that’s something in which we can rejoice.

Before we get to the parable, it is important that we pick up on the context.  It is always important to see any Scripture in context, but especially so here.  This is the third of a series of parables that all teach the same thing.  Remember that tensions had begun to escalate between Jesus and the Pharisees, and that He began warning them that they might not be included in the kingdom of God, despite their self-confidence to the contrary.  The people who would be included would be those that the Pharisees least expected: the blind, the maimed, and those who were generally helpless.  In other words, those included in the kingdom would be those who knew their only hope was the grace of God.  Those would be the people who truly counted the cost of discipleship, surrendering their lives to Jesus to follow Him in sincere faith.

Thus, it was only natural for Jesus to spend time with them, teaching them the things of God.  This made the Pharisees terribly upset.  They couldn’t understand who Jesus as a rabbi (even an informal one) could receive/welcome people like tax collectors and other sinners.  In their minds, these were people in need of punishment; not joy and the grace of God.

That’s when Jesus began this series of parables, telling how God rejoices in recovering things (people) which once were lost.  First, it was the parable of the lost sheep, where the good shepherd was willing to leave ninety-nine behind, if it meant that the one who was lost could be found.  Likewise, heaven rejoices over every individual sinner who repents.  Second, it was the parable of the lost coin, where a woman basically tore her house apart searching for a coin that was lost.  Just as she rejoiced in finding it, so do the angels rejoice over repentant sinners.  There is joy when lost ones are found!

That brings us to the third and final parable in the series.  It is often called “The Parable of the Prodigal Son,” but in keeping with the theme, it is better called “The Parable of the Lost Son,” or better yet, “The Parable of the Lost Sons.”  Why?  Because there are actually two sons which are lost, though their depravity is expressed in different ways.  Two sons lost; one son found.  The love and grace of the father was available to each, but only one son is shown receiving it.

Beloved, there is more than one way to be lost.  Thankfully, God still seeks after and rejoices over lost ones.  We simply need to be available to be found.

Luke 15:11–32

  • Sin of the younger son (11-16)

11 Then He said: “A certain man had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood.

  • Jesus provides the setting, telling of something shocking.  Out of a father’s two sons, the younger son asked his father directly for his portion of his future inheritance.  Legal?  Yes. Loving? No. Normally, an inheritance is received upon the death of another.  Basically, the younger son was treating his father as if he was dead. Already, the son is in sin (in heart, if not in legal technicalities), breaking the 5th Commandment by dishonoring his father.
  • How much was the portion? Probably one-third.  As the father had two sons, the older often received a double portion.  How much this works out to monetarily is unknown and irrelevant.  The bottom line is that whatever the younger son had coming to him later, that was what he requested and received.
    • Although it’s not the main point of the parable, there’s something to be said here regarding patience.  Had the young man been willing to wait a few years, his entire life would have been different.  As it was, his whole future changed on the basis of his impatience and lust for fleeting pleasures.  It may not be a Biblical proverb, but the phrase “patience is a virtue,” is nonetheless true!
  • Interestingly, the word translated “livelihood,” could also be translated “life.” (βιος) The father gave of his wealth – but more than that, he gave of himself.  Whatever he had, and whatever consisted his daily living, that was what he gave to his son.  Contextually, the meaning of “wealth” is clear, but considering the love of this father, the deeper meaning is surely hinted at as well.

13 And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living.

  • It took time to gather everything together, sell off things he couldn’t take with him, etc., but as soon as he got the opportunity, the younger son was out the door.  Many young people have been impatient to leave home; this particular son couldn’t get out fast enough.  What was the rush?  Jesus never says.  All kinds of scenarios might be imagined, but there’s no hint of anything but a loving home life, based on the father’s later reaction.  This son simply wanted to leave, and start his life of debauchery.  In doing so, he added further insult to injury: not only did he wish his father dead, but he indicated that he never wanted to see him again.  He went to a “far country.” Perhaps he wanted as few ties as possible to his former home?  Where he was, there would be no friend of the family to report back as to what he was doing.  There would be no colleague or business partner to relay news.  The young man left, and apparently he attempted to leave no trace behind.
  • Once there, he wasted it all.  Everything he had demanded from his father was eventually gone.  We rarely use the word “prodigal” apart from a reference to this parable – what does the word mean?  “Prodigal living” = irredeemable living.  The word for “prodigal” is the negated form of the word meaning “to save.”  Whatever lifestyle is the opposite of salvation, health, deliverance, etc., that was what the younger son did in his sin.
    • Again, the son’s childhood is not described for us, but from the characteristics of the father & the complaint of the older son, it seems obvious that this was not the way the younger son had been raised. He had fallen far! He abandoned everything of what he knew to go off and live the way he wanted…to terrible results.
    • Many young people go through periods of rebellion – and some take longer to grow out of them than others.  Know this: there may not be anything redeemable about your way of life, but there is something redeemable about you.  The Lord Jesus is our grand Redeemer.  There is no person so lost that He cannot save.  There is no sin so great that He cannot forgive.  You might have a past of which you can do nothing about, but the present & future can most definitely change.  Receive the redemption of Christ, and start anew!
  • Once the money ran out, that’s when the consequences came.  Vs. 14…

14 But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. 15 Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.

  • How much did the son waste?  Everything.  He “spent all,” leaving nothing left to feed himself. He ended up putting himself into indentured servitude, “[joining] himself to a citizen of that country.”  Basically, this young man went from living like a king to that of a slave. The only employment he could find was the most degrading thing possible for a Jew: serving swine.  He had to handle defiled flesh day-in and day-out, ever reminded of how far he had fallen.  This was humiliating to the extreme!
  • The “pod” referred to was most likely the seed pod from the carob tree. Carob trees grow wild all over the Eastern Mediterranean lands, and the seed pods were often used to feed livestock, which saved the more valuable cultivated crops for humans.  The ripe pods are actually quite nutritious, but the thought of eating the same dinner as the pigs was revolting to the son.  This only added to his humiliation.
  • Repentance of the younger son (17-21)

17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!   

  • Finally, he experienced a moment of clarity.  He “came into himself.”  This was the moment he woke up & wised up!  He realized (1) what he had done, and (2) who he was supposed to be.  Even the “hired servants” ate better than he did.  The hired servants were the day laborers – the lowest on the hierarchy among the people working his father’s land.  Some servants lived on the property, and were treated almost as family & other members of the household.  These were people in & out through the course of a day.  Even so, they still ate better than he did.  This was the instant the son realized how low he had sunk.
  • Ever have a moment when you wake up & realize the state in which your actions have put you?  Looking around at your life, you think: “What have I done?  This isn’t what I thought I wanted at all!  I wish I could do it all over again, and differently!”  It’s good (and necessary) to get to that point of clarity, though it would have been far better for it never to have been needed in the first place.  Keep in mind that no one hits bottom overnight – it takes a series of steps to take us there.  Little decisions stacked up on one another leads to big consequences.  The key is to change the little decisions early on, before things get worse.  How to do it?  By always remembering your dependency upon Jesus. More often than not, we end up making sinful decisions because we believe we’re not going to sin when we do it – or, at least, we can moderate the amount of sin in which we can engage.  Reality check: we can never moderate sin.  We are sinful beings, living in a world infected by sin.  Even as born-again Christians, this is a struggle.  Yes, we have new natures able to say “no” to sin (something we were unable to do prior to believing upon Jesus) – but we still have the old man within us, battling against us.  If we give that old nature a taste, we will inevitably go further than what we intended.  This is why we have to daily crucify our flesh, always counting ourselves dead to our former selves.  Romans 6:11, "Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord."  Give your flesh no quarter, so that the opportunity is not given for small decisions to lead to terrible consequences.
    • And when/if you do…fall upon the grace of Jesus!  The ability to walk apart from sin is 100% dependent on Jesus.  We are dependent upon Him for the little decisions, and we are dependent upon Him for forgiveness in our failings.  The moment we believe we can do it on our own is when we will fail.  Thankfully, Jesus’ forgiveness is bigger than our failures!

18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, 19 and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.” ’

  • Realizing the depths to which he had fallen, the younger son made a decision.  He committed himself to repentance.  Repentance (as we know) is far more than words & intents, but it starts there. If we never make a decision to repent, we won’t.  He did.
  • First, there was an admission of sin.  His sin was vertical (“against heaven”) and horizontal (“before you”).  Important realization!  The son’s sin was not only against his father – in fact, it was not primarily against his father; it was against God.  David affirmed this same concept in his confession to God regarding his sin with Bathsheba.  Psalm 51:4, "Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight— That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge."  Question: Were there other people against whom David sinned?  Surely Uriah the Hittite tops the list, having been killed upon David’s command!  Yet David is not discounting the murder; he is acknowledging the truth of his sin.  All sin is sin against God.  Sin is primarily an offense against our Creator, and it needs to be acknowledged as such.
  • Second, there was an understanding of his consequence.  He was “no longer worthy to be called your son.”  People today have a difficult time taking responsibility for themselves.  There’s almost always someone else to be blamed, and demands to be made.  In true repentance, there are no demands.  Forgiveness is not a right to be demanded.  When we have sinned, all of the “rights” belong to the other party, i.e. God. 
  • Third, there was a plea/request.  He wasn’t asking to be made part of the household; to be a day-laborer was more than enough.  Again, the son wasn’t demanding anything; this was a heartfelt plea for mercy.  If he could simply have permission to come on his father’s land during the day and work for minimum wage, that would be far more than what he currently have – and infinitely more than what he deserved.  In his plea, he had the right perspective of humility.
  • Although many people have prayed one, the “sinner’s prayer” is nowhere to be found in the Bible.  Yet if someone wants a good pattern as to how he/she might pray to God, asking for forgiveness, the intended speech of the younger son is a good example!
    • Admit your sin against God.
    • Understand the judgment you deserve, knowing that it has already been received by Jesus.
    • Request God’s forgiveness – not for your sake, but for Jesus’.

20 “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.

  • Up to this point, the son’s repentance had been theoretical.  He had the right words & (apparently) the right attitude, but nothing else.  The only way to discern whether or not his heart was real was to look at his actions.  And his actions followed through: “he arose and came to his father.”  He left where he was & what he was doing, and went home.
    • Remember that Biblical repentance is a change of heart that leads to a change of direction.  That is exemplified through the son.
    • Question: Does this mean that someone has to completely change his/her life before he/she can receive the forgiveness of God?  After all, the son had to walk a long way home before he ever saw his father.  No.  Remember that this is a parable; not an allegory.  We need to be careful not to push the symbolism beyond what is actually being taught.  Yes, sincere repentance goes hand-in-hand with true faith, but the fruits that accompany repentance are not the things that save us.  If they were, that would turn salvation into something earned by works, rather than a gift of grace.  The Biblical model is that we believe Jesus, repenting towards Him in our hearts, and it is after that that the sincerity of our repentance is demonstrated through our actions.  We are saved by grace through faith. (Eph 2:8-9)  That always comes first.
  • In fact, that principle is demonstrated through the father’s actions.  Yes, the son acted in his walk home, but it was the father who took the initiative in actually receiving him home.
    • The father “saw him” a “great way off.”  He was watching.  Whether or not the father was daily scanning the horizon for a hoped-for glimpse of his son is unknown (despite many well-preached sermons along this line!) – but what Jesus does say is that the boy’s father was watching that day.  For whatever reason the father had looked up at that moment, he did, and he sprang into action.
    • The father “had compassion” upon his son.  He was moved in the deepest way.  The same word is used of Jesus when the gospels say how He had compassion upon the crowds.  This father was filled with pity for his younger son; the very opposite of what others might have expected.  The Pharisees would have expected anger, or at least indifference.  Not so – this loving father was filled with compassion.
    • The father “ran” – something a rich landowner would not normally do, especially when dressed in long robes.  Yet this father was so overcome with joy that decorum flew out the window.  At this point, Jesus’ description (purposefully) goes into extravagance.  This would have been almost as shocking to Jesus’ audience as the initial description of the boy’s decadence.
    • The father “fell on his neck and kissed him,” treating him as exactly who he was: a long-lost son.  The son hadn’t had a chance yet to say anything, and the father already received him as family.  The father was overjoyed at the mere presence of his younger son.
  • How this reflects the actions of God the Father towards repentant sinners!  He watches for us, has compassion upon us, takes the initiative in our salvation by reaching (and racing) out to us, and treats us as His children – long before we are able to do anything for Him.  To those who believe they can never be forgiven – to those who think they can never turn back to God – listen to the words of Jesus regarding the prodigal son!  The heart of this boy’s father is magnified many times over in the heart of our Heavenly Father!  God does not turn away repentant sinners; He runs for them!

21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

  • The son’s confession…or at least, part of it.  This was the first part of the speech the son had prepared, but he wasn’t able to get too far into it.  This was all the son was able to say before his father cut him off and showered him with grace upon grace.
  • Before we look at the father’s response – was what the son said true?  Absolutely.  He denied nothing, assuming full responsibility for his actions.  That’s how confession works.  Confession isn’t our opportunity to make excuses for ourselves & blame others.  It’s not even really the process of detailing every act of sin we’ve ever committed.  Notice that the son doesn’t list out the various ways he lived as a prodigal; he just confessed his total sin against God and his father.  If confession was detailing out everything, none of us would be able to confess fully, because none of us would remember everything!  No – confession is simply this: agreeing with God that sin is sin.  Confession is honest acceptance and admission of our actions, thoughts, and words.  We’re not blaming anyone or any circumstances; we’re taking the blame because we were the ones who did the sin.
    • Too often, people (even born-again Christians) don’t confess; they make excuses.  They do whatever they can to avoid true confession…and then they wonder why they still deal with guilt and unresolved sin.
    • Christian: confession brings cleansing!  1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."  There is only one way for a Christian to be done with sin: confess it…so do it!
  • Response of the father #1 (22-24)

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet.

  • Did the father chastise the son for all the things he did wrong?  No.  Did he lay into his son for leaving the way he had?  No.  Did he even agree with his son about the son’s unworthiness, and treat the young man as a hired hand?  No.  The father treated him as he was: a son.  And just to make sure the son (and everyone else knew it), he even ensured the boy was dressed as a son.  No rags, but a robe.  Slaves might be barefoot, but sons wore sandals.  Best of all was the ring, giving him the seal that belonged only to family.  This was grace on top of grace.
  • This is how God treats us!  He clothes us in the righteousness of Christ (i.e., the robe).  He cleanses us from the shamefulness of our sin (i.e., the sandals). Sealed with the guarantee of the Spirit (i.e, the ring).  We don’t want to turn a parable into an allegory, but the parallels are fairly clear.  The bottom line is that just as the father treated his son like family, so does our Heavenly Father do with us.  Before we believed upon Jesus by faith, we were the enemies of God, but once we believed, we became family.  God treats us as His children, for that is what we are. (Jn 1:12)
  • And if all that wasn’t enough, the father threw a party!  Vs. 23…

23 And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; 24 for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.

  • This is what was mirrored in the earlier two parables.  The shepherd called his friends and neighbors regarding his recovered sheep, and the woman did the same with her recovered coin.  Now the father celebrates with others with his recovered son.  This was not a private dinner with the father and the boy; this was a public celebration.  All people would know the extent of the father’s forgiveness, thus the son would be fully restored.
  • There is one slight addition from the first two parables, but extremely important.  This son was not simply lost & found; he was dead and then made alive.  Physically?  No – but figuratively speaking, it was true.  Although it was the son who treated his father as if he was dead, in actuality it was the son who “died.”  He was the one who left home, behaving as if he had never been a part of the family.  The son had died to everything he had previously known, but now he was back.  In seeking (and most importantly, in receiving) forgiveness, the son who was once dead was now alive.
  • That’s the reason for celebration!  When a sinner repents and puts his/her faith in Jesus, that person isn’t merely found & included in the kingdom of God (which is wonderful enough) – that person moves from death to life.  For us, that isn’t simply a figure of speech; it’s reality.  Spiritually speaking, all people are dead in their transgressions & sins. It is only by faith in Jesus that we are made alive. (Eph 2:1)  When we receive forgiveness, we receive life: abundant for the present, and eternal for the future.

If this final parable was to completely parallel the first two, then Jesus would have stopped the lesson at verse 24…but He doesn’t.  There’s more to say, because there was more than just the one son.  Remember that this was all told in the context of the Pharisees’ disapproval of those whom Jesus welcomed.  The first two parables (along with the third) drove home the point of joy in recovering those who were lost – but Jesus also has something to say about those who disapprove.  If the Pharisees couldn’t see themselves in any of the earlier categories, they would surely see themselves in the final description.

  • Sin of the older son (25-30)

25 “Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’

  • So far, so good.  The older son appears to have been doing what would have been expected of him, and even at the time of celebration, was working “in the field.”  He was far enough away from home not to know what was happening, so he had to ask one of the “servants” what was going on.  The servant filled him in on the details, telling him (without bias) what had happened.  That’s when things began to go wrong…

28 “But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him.

  • Instead of rejoicing over the reception of his brother, he was “angry.”  At first glance, that might be understandable (though there’s foundational issue behind it that soon becomes clear), but notice what his anger led him to do: stay away from the house.  He “would not go in.”  Thus there were two sons who went away from home; only one went back.
    • Objection: but the elder son didn’t go far!  He didn’t have to.  The end result was the same: he still removed himself from fellowship with his father.  He didn’t want to be in the house with his family, and thus his relationship was broken.
  • Yet notice what the father did.  Just as the father sought out the younger son, so did the father seek out the older son.  Just as the father took the first steps with the younger, so did he with the older.  He “came out and pleaded with him.
    • God always takes the first steps.  He always takes the initiative.  He comes to us, and woos us, and reasons with us, and convicts our hearts, all to help awaken us to our need for grace.
  • At this point, the older son does not receive the grace of his father, and his true colors come out with four main problems.  Vs. 29…

29 So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. 30 But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’

  • Problem #1: the older son saw himself as a slave, rather than a son.  This speaks to a lack of relationship.  Apparently, he did not stay at home out of love for his father, but out of obligation.
  • Problem #2: the older son was self-righteous.  Granted, in his bitterness the son might be prone to exaggeration, but even so, it is a stretch to say that he “never transgressed…at any time.”  Never once?  Doubtful.  On our best days, we still sin against God.  This older son did not see himself as he truly was.
  • Problem #3: the older son was selfish.  He wanted to celebrate himself; not rejoice in repentance.  He doesn’t say anything here about rejoicing with his family, not even including his father.  He just wants to “make merry with [his] friends.”  How different is that from his younger brother?  This older brother wanted the same wasteful life; he just stopped himself from leaving home to find it.
  • Problem #4: the older son was separated from family.  He hadn’t referred to himself as a son (thinking of himself as a slave), but he dismissively called his brother “this son of yours.”  This underscores a broken relationship with his father.
  • Question: what in all of that diatribe indicates a saving relationship with God?  Nothing.  The elder brother had all the outward trappings of a true son of the father, but his attitude made it clear that he saw himself as anything but.  He may have remained at home, but he was just as lost as his brother ever was.
    • That would have been quite the warning to the Pharisees!  Were they as outwardly as bad as the tax-collectors?  Not according to their traditions and customs.  Outwardly, they were upstanding members of the community, fully “righteous” in the ways of their religion.  But the reality was quite different.  Regarding their relationship with God, they were just as lost as anyone else, fully in need of forgiveness and reconciliation.
    • That should be quite the warning to a lot of other people today!  There are a lot of people in middle-class suburbia that may not look like other “sinners,” but are still just as lost.  They may not have the tattoos, the criminal record, obvious sexual sin, or whatever (name your sin of choice), but they are lost nonetheless.  Pornography separates someone from God just as much as homosexuality.  Self-righteousness has the same spiritual end-result as drug addiction.  All sin leaves us lost, separated from God, doomed for hell.  Jesus came to save us from that, but we need to wake up to our need!
  • Response of the father #2 (31-32)

31 “And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. 32 It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’ ”

  • Just as the father did with the younger son, he gave his older son grace.  Or at least, he gave his older son the opportunity to receive grace.  Grace cannot be forced upon anyone (otherwise, it’s a burden; not a gift), and it wasn’t forced upon the son.  Everything that remained the father’s was already the inheritance of the older son – it was there as soon as he was ready to receive it.  What was missing was something that the younger son had already learned: a heart of humility and repentance.  This son could enjoy joyful fellowship with his father, just as his younger brother did…but he needed to be willing to accept the grace of his father.
  • Why celebrate the repentance of his younger brother?  Because it was “right.” More than that, it was necessary.  The word could be translated “needful.”  Rejoicing over sincere repentance is the right thing to do.  How so?  Because it’s what God does.  Those who share God’s heart celebrate the things that God celebrates.  Those who don’t, demonstrate that they don’t have a heart like God’s.
  • So what happens after this?  How does the elder brother respond to the grace of his father?  Jesus doesn’t say…and that was probably His point.  The Pharisees still had the opportunity to respond to the grace of God – to be themselves forgiven by God, and to rejoice in the things that the Father rejoiced in.  God had already taken the initial steps towards them…but they needed to respond.  The choice was up to them.

Conclusion:
Two sons were lost; one son was found…so far.  Jesus left the end of the story hanging, giving the Pharisees (and others) the opportunity to find the grace of God that was freely available.  God was willing to receive them, just like God is willing to receive any sinner who repents.  He rejoices when lost ones are found!  And those who belong to God rejoice with God.

Where are you in the parable?  All of us are somewhere, because all of us have sinned.  Apart from Jesus, none of us is truly righteous before God, despite what we might otherwise believe about ourselves.  What was the difference between the two brothers?  Both sinned; one admitted it.

Sin doesn’t have to be obvious for it to be deadly.  There’s more than one way to be lost.  For some people, it is truly obvious, and so is their need for forgiveness.  For others, sin might be more subtle or hidden – but the need for forgiveness and restoration with God is the same.  In a sense, perhaps the subtle sins are the more dangerous ones.  Like a person who dies of carbon monoxide poisoning, they don’t realize their need for help until it’s too late.

Recognize your need!  If you have never believed upon Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sin, turn to Him today.  Don’t fall back on the “I’m not as bad as others” excuse, because newsflash: you are.  I am – we all are.  All of us are equally lost, and all of us need to be found by Him – given life by Him – made into a child of God.  So respond to His offer of grace today, and be saved.

If you know you’re already saved, then remember why you’re saved: because you were shown grace you did not deserve by a God whom you previously did not love.  All we have is because of the love of and grace of Jesus.  So stay in Him!  Don’t get cocky – don’t become hypocritical – don’t be stingy with the grace that we so freely received.  It’s when we forget our own dependence upon Christ that we engage in our own sin, starting down the road of the older brother.  Beloved, our Heavenly Father loves us…rejoice in that love!

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