Most of us are very familiar with the parable of the prodigal son. In this story there is the outright rebellious younger son who asks for his inheritance early. By doing so he was basically wishing his father were dead. He had no regard for what was right and lived a selfish life of partying, luxury, and immorality which resulted in destruction and misery. In the end he returns home, a broken man, and is joyfully embraced and accepted by his father.
Then there is the older son who was morally upright, hard working and a rule follower. He did everything he was supposed to, outwardly respected his father, and yet his heart betrayed his good works. He was filed with bitterness towards his brother, a love of things over the love of his father and self righteousness.
The two brothers reflect the two kinds of people in the word. Those who are openly rebellious towards God and do not think they need him, and those who are self-righteous and don’t believe they really need him. One of the truths in this parable is that everyone is lost. The religious as well as the rebellious are dammed without Christ. The Pharisees, with their religious rule-keeping and the prostitute with her immorality both need to be rescued. There is no one righteous, not even one. (Romans 3:10)
Can you identify with either of these brothers? I can identity with the older one. I was always the rule keeper, the “good girl” who never got in trouble. It was easy for me to try and rely on myself more than on God. It was easy to think “I’ve got this.” But there is no one good enough in the eyes of God. We all need Christ and the work he did on the cross.
Did you know that there is actually a third son in this story (Driscoll). This is the son who was neither rebellious nor religious. He was not selfish or greedy. He wasn’t immoral or self righteous. He was perfect. Actually he is the one telling the story. While we may be able to identify ourselves with one of the two imperfect brothers, it is in Christ, the perfect Son, in whom we must find our identity. It is Jesus who saves us and leads us in the right way. We need him for everything. Just like both brothers needed to be saved from the sins of self-righteousness and blatant unrighteousness so we need to be saved from our sins.
Our dependence on Jesus goes deeper than we can ever comprehend. Through his death Jesus accomplished our salvation but a person’s need for Jesus doesn’t stop there. He gives us a righteousness that we cannot earn and a power to live godly lives and overcome sin that we cannot muster up on our own. He gives us wisdom that we can’t learn on our own, and grace for every moment of our day that we don’t deserve. He holds our very lives together by his word. He wisely and sovereignly determines when we are born and where we live. He is master over the weather and has the power to give and to take away. We are nothing without him.
Can you identify who you are–the older or younger brother? Until you can you will not be able to identify your savior who rescues you from your sin and yourself.
Looking To Jesus,