A father had two sons. The youngest one, as often happens, grew dissatisfied with home life and family, took his part of the inheritance, and “wasted it” on riotous living. When he saw himself in the pig sty, the Bible says he came to himself, and went back home in the hopes that his father would at least accept him back as a servant in the household. He couldn’t expect much better, considering how he wasted his father’s substance, and hurt his father’s heart. When he came home, his father ran to meet him, dressed him in fine robes of a son, put a ring on his finger (suggesting authority in the household) and had a feast. The son was immensely grateful, and would never doubt his father’s love and care for him. It was (is) all about the father’s love!
The older son, however, didn’t take the father’s love and compassion as well. When he found out his brother came back home, and what the father did for him, he would not come into the feast. He thought his brother should be punished, not rewarded, for what he did. Some like to attribute his actions in a “positive light by suggesting that he was only looking out for his father’s honor. But Scripture tells us that it was not that, but his own selfishness and honor that were at stake. In Luke 15:28-30 you see his anger and his hurt because he was not treated as this son was, even though he had not wronged his father IN THE SAME WAY. No doubt, as the father bears the brunt of his oldest son’s complaint, he hurt to hear the motive that the oldest son had in serving him – duty, not love. No doubt the father hurt when he sees the reaction of his oldest son to his brother.
However, our Heavenly Father, being perfect, never has to wonder if he failed his sons and daughters. He lets us live according to our free will, and we are the ones who make the mistakes and sins that hurt the relationship we have with him.
The older brother was lost, even though he was at home. In the context of the parable, Jesus emphasized that the older brothers were the Pharisees and scribes, who shut out the kingdom against the sinners, but who themselves were no better because of their prejudices and faults. They served God out of a sense of duty, not out of a sense of gratitude for what God had done for them. I believe that is why the parable ends with the older brother still outside – it was now his choice whether or not to come in and celebrate, or stay outside and lament his station in life.
This parable teaches so many lessons; we cannot begin to understand them all. The greatest, I think, is found in the fact that the father loves both his sons, and even though they both disappoint him in ways beyond what we can begin to understand, he is patient with them and wants what is best for both of them. We have disappointed our Heavenly Father in so many ways – we have not kept the covenant we made with him at baptism; our obedience has been less than perfect; we say and do things that cause others who desire to enter the kingdom to think twice or three times before doing so; we have barred the door to the kingdom by our prejudices and fears, justifying our actions by “defending” the Father’s honor. And what does God want? He wants all of his children to come to him, even in their sin realizing that he is the only one that can do anything about it, and understanding that he has done what he can to bring them back. Love gives man the choice. Love demands that we serve our Heavenly Father out of gratitude, out of reverence (he is still THE FATHER), and out of loyalty to him. What he asks us to do is nothing compared to what he has done and is doing to help us.
Fathers today are portrayed as dunces who have no sense, and who cannot move without help from their wives. Our Heavenly Father sets the perfect example for every father to become what we can for the sake of the children. Don’t listen to the world – imitate your Heavenly Father!
MATCH FATHER AND SON
- ______ Esau
- ______ Methuselah
- ______ John the Baptist
- ______ David
- ______ Samuel
- ______ James
- ______ Abraham
- ______ Joshua
DESIRED CHARACTERISTICS OF A FATHER
The greatest love a father can demonstrate to his children is to love God first, and to love his wife and children as Christ loved the church.
The greatest trust a father can demonstrate and give to his children is to trust God, and to trust his wife.
The greatest respect a father can demonstrate and give to his children is to respect God and obey him, and to respect his wife.
The greatest patience a father can demonstrate to his children is his patience in doing God’s will, as well as his patience with his wife and the children.
The greatest security a father can give and demonstrate to his children is to see the father trust God when things seem the bleakest, and to affirm to his wife and children that his Heavenly Father will give them what they need.
The greatest leadership a father can give and demonstrate to his wife and children is for him to follow the leadership of God his Father, and of his Son Jesus Christ, and set the example of leadership by his obedience to God.
The greatest devotion a father can demonstrate is to show his devotion to God first, and then show his devotion to his wife and children.
The greatest understanding a father can demonstrate and give to his wife and children is to show them the patience that God has had with him, and his example in showing patience and love to his family.
The children will see how the father treats his wife, their mother, and will expect the same from him. The wife will see the father’s relationship with God – his and her Father — as well and will expect him to emulate God in all decisions made for the family. Stability in the home depends upon the faith, trust and love that is inherent in the relationship with God and manifests itself in how the family treats one another. The mother and father set the example in following God. The husband-wife relationship is based upon their relationship with God. Only when the man – the husband, father – loves God with his entire being and loves his wife as commanded can he begin to be the husband and father God wants.
Adapted – Dale C. Flowers